Stories tagged computers

Aug
14
2005

Who knew that the probability of the nucleus of an atom decaying had any resemblance to the probability of a couple breaking up?

Well, Richard Ecob at Oxford did and used this similarity to create a computer model of the dating world. This model included imaginary social networks populated with people who had a set of interests looking for partners.

What his team found is that even people with many preferences of traits they would like in a mate had the same likelihood of ending up in a relationship as did those singles with fewer preferences. They also found that people who formed many relationships actually were worse at finding a partner. However, these "super daters" were good for others, breaking up weak couples who were then free to find stronger relationships.

Next thing you know, people are going to be described as protons or neutrons based on how they behave in relationships.

May
23
2005


LIGOCourtesy NASA

Most home computers almost never employ their full processing power during their normal day-to-day operation. Distributed computing is a way of using the spare processing power from personal computers to solve large problems. The large problem is broken down into smaller parts and these parts are distributed to home computers to solve. The results are then sent back and combined into a solution for the larger problem.

Using the spare processing power of home computers is a powerful tool. The current most powerful supercomputer, IBM's Blue Gene/L clocks out over 70 trillion calculations per second; while 500,000 home computers running a distributed computing project can top 100 trillion calculations per second.

The most popular example of distributing is the [email protected] project, which analyzes data from the Arecibo radio telescope to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

One of the most recent distributed computing projects is [email protected], which searches for spinning neutron stars (or pulsars) using data from the LIGO and GEO gravitational wave detectors.

You can help search for extraterrestrial life, spinning neutron stars, help design a particle accelerator, predict Earth's climate and more by visiting the distributed computing info website.