Today’s Solutions: October 25, 2021

Helping the intergalactic search for intelligent alien life, or decoding protein sequences for medical advancements sounds like a tough task but is actually closer to your fingertips than you’re aware of. Scientists have created applications that use the processing power of your dormant devices to help compute complex equations, and scan outer space for alien life.
SETI@Home is a free program that uses internet-connected computers to analyze data from a radio telescope pointed at the stars. Released 15 years ago by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley, SETI has logged more than 2 million hours of processing time, over about 1.4 million computers in 233 countries. The way SETI@Home works is radio antennas analyze star clusters looking for radio fallout from possibly inhabited planets. SETI takes information packets collected from the antennas and sends them to your sleeping computer for processing; when the processing is finished it sends the information back to SETI. While SETI has yet to find any intelligent alien life, the innovative idea of outsourcing processing sequences has grown into an open-source platform for grid-computing calculations, called BOINC.
BOINC is a suite of projects across numerous academic disciplines that utilize the processing capabilities of dormant computers, similar to SETI. BOINC projects range from astrobiology and seismology, to molecular biology and computer science. You can choose which project you would like to join by visiting the BOINC website. BOINC uses the processing capabilities of sleeping desktop and laptop computers, a new application called Power Sleep uses the processing capabilities of sleeping smartphones.
Developed by researchers at the University of Vienna’s Faculty of Life Sciences team, and Samsung Austria, the Power Sleep app utilizes a phone’s processing power in the middle of the night when the device owner is asleep. The Power Sleep app is basically an alarm clock, only users tell the application when you will be sleeping, and when you will be awake, so the phone’s processing power is only consumed when the phone isn’t in use. In order for the application to work the alarm has to be set, the device is turned on, plugged in, and connected to Wi-Fi. After the aforementioned criteria are met a data-packet is downloaded to the phone. The data-packet is then unpackaged, analyzed, then repackaged and sent back to researchers all in the middle of the night before the phone’s owner wakes up. It is not a process that starts automatically; the phone’s owner must set up the app and leave their phone on overnight. Researchers at the University if Vienna use the application to help decrypt protein sequences related to Alzheimer’s, cancer research, and other scientific fields.
Currently only an Android-application, you can download a copy of Power Sleep in the Google Play store.
Photo: Courtesy of Samsung
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