Talk:SETI@home

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History[edit]

Should there be a history section? Who was involved in setting it up? (Is David Anderson notable?) When was it conceived? How long did it take to get set up?

David P. Anderson has been created now. Anyone for a history section? crandles 16:12, 27 August 2005 (UTC)
Definitely. Cheers -- Svest 17:57, August 27, 2005 (UTC) Wiki me up ™

What makes SETI@home's SETI different?[edit]

The current text indicates that SETI@home is unique in that it uses coherent integration, but all modern microwave and some optical SETI searches, use both coherent and non-coherent integration.

Coherent here really just means the use of discrete Fourier transforms, rather than simply averaging the power. The link on coherent integration is also misleading as the connection between optical coherence and coherent integration is rather tenuous, although optical coherence is a prerequisite for signals to be detected by coherent integration.

In SETI@home, the gaussian search is effectively non-coherent integration and the pulse search certainly uses non-coherent integration.

What's really unique is the number of chirp rates tried, and, in later versions, the search for repeating pulses.

David Woolley 13:11, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

Threats to the project[edit]

It is clear that the main threats to the project are funding (though there was a debate about this issue in 2002 [1]) and the appearence of other alternative projects (BOINC - though I consider it as a solution instead of a threat). However, I don't agree about the following:

  • Participants are not prepared for the future: In 2003, the Planetary Society said that "SETI@home is moving forward with plans for a more sensitive and comprehensive sky survey. Within the next two years the SETI@home team hopes to phase out the aging receiver at the base of the line feed...Working together, ALFA researchers hope to be granted as many as 10,000 observing hours on the radio telescope, spread over 5 years...Once the observations get under way, perhaps early in 2005, the SETI@homne sky survey will become more sensitive and comprehensive than ever before. It will be a new chapter in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence." [2]. On the other hand, Rapid Prototype Array solving a variety of scientific and technical challenges as they move toward the final design and construction of the full One Hectare Telescope (1hT).
Part of what I deleted was the statement that nothing had been found in six years, with the implication that it should have been. In fact, even before the project started, people were warning that it might have a negative impact on SETI because of unreasonable expectations. So the first part of this is the idea that people thought that the project would find an ETI within a short amount of time and therefore consider it to have failed because it hasn't. The other half of this is that maybe most participants aren't doing it for the science at all, so will drop out when fashions change.
--David Woolley 20:12, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
  • More restrictive computer use policies in businesses: What is the percentage of the project being executed on machines belonging to businesses Vs personal and academic ones? Logically, it should be a tiny one. Even if it was true, computers are and will have more processing powers plus the fact that phone lines are gradually changing to cable and fibre-optic. As Professor Werthimer puts it "20 years ago we listened to 100 channels - now we listen to 100 million." [3]. -- Cheers Svest 15:36, 15 October 2005 (UTC)  Wiki me up™
Originally most of the work was probably been done on business machines. A lot of the early SETI farms were servers under test. It ought to be possible to find out from the dynamic statistics on the SETI site, if they are still there. Many of the systems doing a lot of work were under the control of IT deparment people, so more immune from policies. It's certainly true more home computers are always on, but it is also true that home users are actually being lost because BOINC is more difficult to use with an intermittent connection.
--David Woolley 20:12, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

Good arguments. I agree. --Cheers Svest 20:42, 15 October 2005 (UTC)  Wiki me up™

The entire "threats to the project" section sounds slightly short of NPOV, as it subtly takes the view of a project member. "What threatens us?" In particular, calling other grid computing projects a threat is at least questionable terminology. --Mr. Billion 06:53, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

L33t hax0r alienz are set to take over the Earth via SETI![edit]

Be afraid, be very afraid!

http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/archive-112005.html#00000724 http://home.fnal.gov/~carrigan/SETI/SETI_Hacker.htm —Preceding unsigned comment added by 195.70.48.242 (talkcontribs)

For a counter argument see http://www.setileague.org/articles/hacker.pdf
Also note that a resistor connected to the antenna input will, given long enough cover all possible input patterns (I think it will cover 90% within about an order of magnitude of the time to enumerate them systematically). --David Woolley 08:59, 18 December 2005 (UTC)
Honestly that has to be one of the most farfetched things I've ever heard. —Aiden 04:42, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
This theory really is total rubbish, whoever came up with it has read too much bad science fiction. It'd make a great hook for a fictional story, but it sets a very poor example indeed for scientists and those interested in science to even consider this a possibility. It's right up there with monkeys writing the complete works of Shakespeare, it's not even worth considering as a real life event. It's doubly worrying to see theories like this floated by academics because things like this are clearly going to get far more press coverage and fans than, say, a new mathematical technique for analysing signals, but it's the new technique that would have scientific value.
And phrases like "the risk that aliens would hack SETI is non-zero" are meaningless because the risk of ANYTHING is non-zero, that doesn't mean we take account of absolutely everything. Or does this person avoid drinking glasses of water in case they spontaneously heat up to beyond boiling point?
Calm down, people, it must be a joke. However the scientist is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! The probability really is NON-ZERO, they MAY already live in your neighbours garrage (like ALF did, and knowing him...). They MAY be in charge of the flying saucers that dictate our governments to keep quiet about what really happened at "Area 51". Precisely as they MAY be hacking SETI@Home, even as we speak. He never did say (in this far too short summary) that it was 20% or 86.4%, all he said was NON-ZERO covering statements such as ∞!-1. Whoops forgot to sign in Zero2ninE (talk) 18:35, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Possible extra threat to include: Modern processor technology.

When SETI@Home was created, any clock cycles not being used just went to waste on a system idle process and SETI@Home game them something to do, but with modern processors when the processor isn't being utilized at full capacity, clockspeeds can be dynamically throttled, thus reducing electricity consumption and thermal output. Is the fact that people no longer have nothing to lose by running SETI@Home a threat? 82.13.80.230 (talk) 23:49, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Propose change to Harvard referencing[edit]

I propose to change the referencing style from inline URLs, plus full citation in References, to using Harvard style references inline (with the same full citations). The advantage of this is that it is easier to see which facts come from which sources, which helps in maintaining the sources and means that it is easier for a reader to judge the reliability of statements against their perception of the reliabilty of particular sources.

Note that the article is generally under sourced at the moment (a common problem on Wikipedia).

Up to yesterday, I believe that I was the only person to have contributed inline references, so I could have made the change unilaterally. A couple of references have now been added inline in the direct URL style, but have not yet been properly cited in the References section. See, for example, WP:V and WP:CITE for why full citations are desirable, although it is also worth noting that Berkeley has a real problem with link rot and renaming URLs. --David Woolley 09:11, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

For such cases, it might make more sense to use the Internet Archive as a reference instead of the original site. This also aids in verifying that citations are accurate when compared to the work referenced, at the expense of being a somewhat less direct source (I would consider this roughly comparable to retrieving online copies of academic journal articles through a database such as Proquest, which is accepted conduct in most academic circles). --LX 05:07, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

s-23 wiki[edit]

On February 11, JarlaxleArtemis added a section about "s-23 wiki",

a MediaWiki-based wiki created by the Seti23 cabal. It is described as a "non-hierarchical geek contents dis-organization by uncensored, decentralized, transglobal multi-user hypertext editing without restrictions." It is both an English- and German-language wiki.
The Seti23 is a team dedicated to Karl Koch and is participating in the SETI@home project.

I removed the section. There are thousands of SETI@home teams; this team does not appear to be any more notable than any other team. Note that s-23 wiki used to have its own article, but it was deleted. dbenbenn | talk 10:32, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

Grid vs Distributed[edit]

The introduction states that SETI@home "...is a grid computing (distributed computing in the project's own terminology) project", whilst Grid computing states that "Grid purists point out that Seti@home is really a distributed computing application as it does not make use of almost any Grid concepts."

The former implies that "the project's own terminology" is incorrect, whereas the latter claims that referring to the project as a grid computing project is incorrect. So which is it?

Note that grid computing also states that "Grid computing is a super set of distributed computing." (A claim I personally find questionable; I would argue that the inverse is true, and indeed, the article appears to contradict itself twice, first in citing IBM: "A Grid is a type of parallel and distributed system...", and then in citing Buyya: "(a grid is) a type of parallel and distributed system...", but I will assume that the article's assertion is correct for now.)

This suggests that grid computing's assertion regarding SETI@home is, if not incorrect, then at least misleading. If distributed computing is a kind of grid computing, and SETI@home is an instance of distributed computing projects, then it is also, in a more general sense, a grid computing project. Similarly, it suggests that this article's assertion is also misleading, because the self-professed categorisation as a distributed project would imply the Wikipedia-favoured (at least in this article) classification as a grid computing project.

Now let's assume that grid computing is instead a subset of distributed computing, which appears more reasonable. Then this article's introduction still seems odd, as the "project's own terminology" is simply more general than this article's. Furthermore, the "Grid purists'" objection on grid computing makes somewhat more sense under this assumption, yet this article's introduction appears to contradict it.

About the only attempts to distinguish the concepts of grid computing and distributed computing that I have found in any of the relevant articles are two separate and inconspicuous sentences in grid computing. Firstly: "Grid computing's focus on the ability to support computation across administrative domains sets it apart from ... traditional distributed computing." Secondly: "One characteristic that currently distinguishes grid computing from distributed computing is the abstraction of a 'distributed resource' into a grid resource." It is not immediately apparent to me how SETI@home fails to meet these criteria, as the unnamed "purists" claim.

As a general comment, there appears to be a great deal of confusion with respect to the relationship between grid and distributed computing (and, to a lesser extent, clustered computing). It would appear that a definition by delimitation and relation is called for in the introductory definitions in grid computing and distributed computing.

LX 16:07, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Good point. I agree with you that is is more reasonable that grid computing is a subset of distributed computing than the other way around.
The SETI@home-like solutions of distributed computing and the grid computing projects (such as globus) have emerged separately and have been developed separately. If you try to find their definitions, you might get confused and have an impression that they are very much similar, because their aims are similar as is written by Jonathan Ledlie, et al. "The Peer-to-Peer (p2p) and Grid infrastructure communities are tackling an overlapping set of problems." [4]
  • SETI@home project home page does not say it is a "grid" project.
  • BOINC home page says it is a software for "volunteer computing" and "desktop grid computing", and tells you the difference between "volunteer computing" such as SETI@home (note it uses BOINC) and "grid computing".
  • Ian Foster wrote an article about what is Grid and what is not. [5][6] Cluster computing is not Grid according to him (which I think is reasonable). It does not mention about distributed computing such as SETI@home.
  • GridCafe page at CERN [7] mentions "@home" applications as Grid applications. Here they seem to define Grid as a resouce/service and "@home" as one of applications to use it.
  • Rajkumar Buyya tells you what Grid is, and differences between p2p and grid computing [8]
--LittleTree 21:36, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps, move threats to Distributed Computing?[edit]

Perhaps some of the information in this article pertains to more than Seti@home, for example... Folding@home? It would probably have the same threats such as non dedicated users, etc. 72.66.87.24 04:39, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Stolen Laptops[edit]

Stolen Laptops

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/02/22/stolen_laptop_recove.html

http://www.engadget.com/2007/02/22/seti-home-claims-its-first-major-discovery-a-stolen-laptop

http://digg.com/security/Stolen_Laptop_Recovered_Thanks_To_SETI_Home

Plenty of sources, but I'm running a fever and can't type a full addition. Please someone *thud* zzzzzzzzz. 66.248.160.235 23:08, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

"Greenhouse Gases and the Billion Dollar Computation" -- OR[edit]

It seems like this section is original research. For one, the cited references are of limited support/applicability. For another thing, it would require an actual study from a reputable source, or at least a lot more supporting data, to make specific claims about the costs, both monetary and in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. SETI@home is run in many different countries; these countries (and even more local regions) have widely varying electricity costs, and widely varying power generation sources (i.e., with different emissions profiles) -- the electricity cost and greenhouse gas emissions for a given work unit would thus depend on where the computation was performed. Nobody would dispute that the electricity used for SETI@home computations has cost money and resulted in greenhouse gas emissions, but the data provided are inadequate to arrive at a particular figure. I certainly think there is a worthwhile point to be made, but it seems that the way to make it isn't via doing original research on Wikipedia. I've tried without success to find any reliable mention of this topic via various searches, but I welcome someone to provide a reliable source for it. The BOINC website does mention energy cost, and contradicts the section on this page: http://boinc.berkeley.edu/trac/wiki/EnergyUsage Zahnrad (talk) 10:24, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

It is unscholarly to make an assertion as above--and then have others build on the false premise, as we see below. The link does not in any way contradict the astronomical cost of SETI@home. You are, apparently, confusing the cost per COMPUTER per day with the cost per PROCESSING HOUR. SETI@home, according to this article,has 1.75 x 10 ^10 hours of processing time. Figure out for PROCESSING how much electricity (a typical) computer uses, and run it at 8 cents per KWH to get the very minimum cost.-- 216.41.123.210

These claims are in contradiction to several Wikipedia guidelines as are, all in all, shallow and stupid in every possible level. They ignore the fact that most of computational time dedicated to SETI are idle ones, pretending that every machine and CPU cycle dedicated to it is in sole purpose of SETI research, when in fact are not. The vast majority of SETI users don't leave they machines on just for SETI computation as the statement seems to claim. This is a 'pub argument' sort of calculation writen in a napkin that is now given 'research' status by figuring in this article. It's a gross calculation at best, and a pointless exercise misleading those refering to Wikipedia to research about SETI@Home. I don't even have to put this forward to debate, it's clearly in conflict with the most basic guidelines of Wikipedia (no sources etc.), so I'll delete it straight away. AlfMaia (talk) 1650, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree 100%. The material you deleted was based on highly questionable assumptions. As you note most SETI@Home CPU time is idle time when a computer is otherwise being used (in many cases this is "between the key strokes"). I also think the figure of 0.50c-$1.50/day is highly questionable. A computer's power draw is highly variable based on the type of workload it is undertaking. Robert Brockway (talk) 16:11, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree that this material should smack less of "original research." The contributor asserts that (s)he is merely doing the math, but my own [original] research contradicts the assumptions made about power usage. I have found, using a power monitor, that a modern machine with a maxed out CPU draws right at 100 watts (not including monitor, and not a high-end video card). This discrepancy doesn't make me right, but it underscores the importance of scientific, peer-reviewed research.
I disagree that grid computing initiatives such as SETI@Home consume no additional electricity because they only use "idle" CPU cycles. On modern CPUs, not just those that perform frequency scaling, the power consumption does vary with the amount of CPU usage. Thus, if a CPU is 20% utilized, it's quite possible that any process consuming the remaining 80% of "idle CPU" will increase the machine's power consumption.
(We still need verifiable research to back this up.) --Quintote (talk) 16:11, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
I checked both references. Neither one contains information on the greenhouse gas or electrical usage of the SETI@Home project. This is completely original research and should be removed. As original research, it is poor research. It assumes all computers use the same power. It assumes all computers running SETI@Home would otherwise be turned off. It assumes that all electricity in all areas of the world produce the same amount of greenhouse gases. All in all - it is bad original research. -- kainaw 16:36, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
To be clear, I completely agree with you. BTW, to avoid getting in an edit war, I've added the {{disputed-section}} template in the article. In no way was this intended to legitimize this section, but this user seems hell-bent on getting his section included, and until (s)he gets blocked [again], I'd rather contain the damage. --Quintote (talk) 16:41, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
It is not research. And your assertions are incorrect. So far, I am seeing an 'agenda pushed' by those who are unhappy with the fact relating to the real-cost of this effort. Use your grammar-school arithmetic, and make even trivial assumptions--go ahead, and for your own benefit, discount the actual REFERENCED sources. Assume that your use of SETI@home amounts to, say, 40 cents a day. That realistic? I wish my laptop cost a $0.40 a day to run! (A dollar is more like it...) Now multiply that by 2.5 million years, which is--NOW-- the minimum estimate of total use. How much money is that? At a dollar per day that's $912,500,000USD. So much for 'original research'.--216.41.123.210 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.41.123.210 (talk) 16:48, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Cited SETI@HOME link on electricity use. They vastly underestimate electricity costs, but even within their (under) estimate, 2 million years of active SETI@home processing gives almost a quarter of BILLION dollars in aggregate cost. Also, personally, I would not take efforts to block my edits lightly--use WIKI as it was intended--edit, don't implement some 'wolfpack' agenda against those with facts you happen to not like. Incidentially, the original seti@home reference is a PAPER, not an ABSTRACT--and I am referenced there. If you have **NEED** to know who I am then state that NEED and I will contact you.--216.41.123.210


I can't speak for the other so-called "agenda pushers" here, but my only agenda is improving Wikipedia. Personally, I got bored with SETI@home years ago, and stopped running it on my machines because I don't want it consuming excess electricity. I don't disagree with your assertion that SETI@home and other grid computing projects carry a hidden cost. And I don't want to discourage any Wikipedia contributor who's passionate about a particular subject. However, as a SETI scientist, you'll appreciate that "grammar-school arithmetic" is meaningless if incorrect assumptions are made. Accurate assumptions come from reliable research:
  • Cost of electricity varies by geographic region. The official energy statistics from the US Government show that in 2006, the national average $/kWH was $0.104/kWH residential, $0.089/kWH overall[9]. This report was released in October 2007, so I'm curious to see the source of newer authoritative numbers.
  • Computer power supplies have varying efficiency levels. The newest Energy Star standards specify a minimum of 80% efficiency across usage loads[10], but this is greater than 33% more efficient than current power supplies[11]. In addition, most current computer power supplies are more inefficient at low power consumption levels. Thus, if a typical not-so-efficient ATX power supply is operating at low load (hard drive powered down, modest video card), it's questionable how much power draw would be caused by an 80% increase in CPU utilization. That has nothing to do with arithmetic, and everything to do with scientific measurement of various combinations of PC hardware, and statistical sampling of typical PC configurations for SETI@home users.
  • Computer users have varying amounts of idle CPU time. While my machine is running a virus scan, the CPU is 100% utilized. When I'm writing code in a modern IDE, I'm using a fair amount of CPU power. When one plays online Flash-based games, they're using a fair amount of power. And any hardcore player of MMORPG or First-person shooter PC games will tell you that these games consume every resource they can. How much idle CPU time is available to SETI@home? Statistical sampling of large numbers of users is the only reasonable way to arrive at this, not arithmetic.
  • Some users leave PC's on. I do, and as I've stated above, I do not run SETI@home or any similar idle-cycle-using applications. The number of users like me, if they run SETI@home, should have the amount of power consumed by leaving on a machine measured and deducted from any additional amount used to run SETI@home, since they would've already left that machine on.

I must chide you, with all due respect, for again repeating the false premise promulgated starting on 25 Dec: this has NOTHING TO DO with computer idleness: it has to do with bona fide SETI@home PROCESSING HOURS. You may indeed assume, for the sake of this discussion, that there are substantially more calendar hours than processing hours. The actual figure for SETI@home is in excess of 2.5 million PROCESSING hours. Please do not make me look foolish when I am stating something correctly; it is quite uncivil. And I assume that is not your intent.

My objective here is to inform , with the facts, the realities of SETI@home. Doubtless those who have looked at my edits--not just on this section--will note the disinterested and factual tone I have comveyed. This section is no different. Also, note the meaning of the word 'disinterested' for those who assert that I have some agenda. I do not. Thanks.-- 216.41.123.210 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.163.188.135 (talk) 21:53, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

The factual accuracy of this section in the article is being disputed. Regardless of whether or not the facts are correct, it is correct to state that such a dispute exists. Please do not remove this disclaimer from the article's section until we reach a consensus.
Finally, please make an effort towards civility in your discussions and edits. Trust me, I understand how much work it can be. I have placed a great deal of effort into this post to keep my tone positive, and I do so because I firmly believe it's the best way to improve Wikipedia.
Thanks for listening. --Quintote (talk) 19:57, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for responding. I understand that when people read things they don't like then they want the other side to be loathesome. But frankly, at no time have I been uncivil, and I expect you to not repeat that false insinuation--and thank you in doing so.

If you have over 2 million processing hours, then you are neither idle nor at low duty cycle. So your KWH usage is not trivial, and can consistently be in the average of 1/10 of a KW. With electricity averaging (weighted by users, not by providers) 12 cents or more per KWH (am I to assume that THIS is 'original research' or can I ASSUME we all read electric bills?), this means that it costs at least a penny for each KWH of SETI@home processing time. Now: 2 million PLUS years processing time gives you $90USD per year times 2 million. Go figure out that cost...

We may discuss relevant costs of electricity (and yours reflects a weighting by providers, rather than by weighted KWH--it's closer to $0.12: some providers have FEW customers and charge much less than others with multiple times more customers), and duty cycles, but the dispute certainly appears non-existent, because the sections CITES SETI@home's numbers. Edit if you wish; calling it a dispute is merely an indication of a desire that some have for a p*ssing match rather than an unveiling of fact. Enjoy.-- 216.41.123.210 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.163.188.135 (talk) 21:15, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

I'm glad you invited people to look at your edit history, 216.41.123.210/68.163.188.135/etc; your edit summaries and talk page (for 216.41.123.210) are particularly illuminating.
From what people have said -- and I don't have much to add, since they've made good points -- it looks like the prevailing view is that your contribution represents original research. If you are, as you say, a "SETI scientist," perhaps it would be a good idea for you to do more comprehensive research and submit it to a peer-reviewed journal.Zahnrad (talk) 22:27, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Talk about personal agenda. It seems that our unsigned friend even keeps his own page here in Wikipedia as 'Dr. Seti (R)'(note the 'registered') in the form of a glorified curriculum. This is simply ridiculous... AlfMaia (talk) 1430, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Is "Drseti"'s behavior a violation of WP:SOCK? If you look at his edit history and that of the previously referenced group of IPs, there is a striking overlap. Also, if you look at the talk pages for some of the IPs (but not "Drseti"), there has been concern about sock puppetry in the past. If they are indeed the same person, it appears to fall under the heading of "Avoiding Scrutiny". I mention this issue here only because the use of sock puppetry could have a meaningful impact on the discussion.Zahnrad (talk) 20:11, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Following this fascinating discussion, and the obviously personal track that some have taken here. Just wondering, if this wiki article only lists stuff from peer reviewed research, and all else is "original research" and not acceptable in wiki, then shouldn't the rest of the article undergo the same scrutiny? How much is left if that filter is used in an unbiased and objective way? Just wondering there Zahnrad. After all it was you who started this alleged dispute based upon the assertion by you of "original research", when all the poster stated was based on multiplying two obvious and open source numbers... I assume you thought this through. Also, isn't ** AlMaia** a bogus listing? How do we know that isn't one of YOUR aliases? Curious to know. This whole dispute seems to me to be a reflction of your personal and now uncivil bias against another persob who seems to know quite a bit about the subject. Thanks for letting me share my civil and genteel view my good friend! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.221.201.26 (talk)
I'm posting signed in so there's no confusion about my identity as raised by our fellow who, not satisfied in not giving in that his actions are not accepted by any of us, is now engaged in personal assaults and talking about himself in the third person, despite not signing his posts as usual. I think the matter is settled and an administrator should be contacted regarding the issue. This is now vandalism, there's no longer a point in discussion here. The 'unidentified user' is not willing to accept the point of view of the majority, is putting into question the whole article's reliability and, all in all, we shouldn't be wasting this much time with someone who doesn't put his identity forward -- for obvious reasons, vandalism. Alfmaia (talk) 2251, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
By no means do I wish to make this a personal issue, unsigned poster. Since I have not seen anybody else argue for your position, it naturally makes your postings a focus of discussion. And since you are the only person arguing for your view, the potential for sock puppetry (given the historical evidence and lone-viewpoint situation) is important to note.
Wikipedia guidelines (see W:RS) state that "Articles should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy." When I suggested you further your research, unsigned poster, and publish it in a peer-reviewed journal, I did not mean to imply that a peer-reviewed article is the only acceptable kind of source -- merely that that would be a particularly good way to establish the reliability of your claims. I do not mean to suggest anything in particular about your knowledge of the topic at hand -- rather, I mean to point out that asserting expert status is insufficient to support one's claims.
In summary, it seems that the section in question is an unambiguous example of original research (see W:NOR), even based on the unsigned user's own description of events. The section, even if one assumes that the sources are of high quality (which is open to debate), synthesizes other material to advance a view that is not explicitly (or even implicitly, for that matter) stated in the source. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zahnrad (talkcontribs) 03:15, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Mmkay, let me try to steer this back to where we build consensus.... I've taken several hours away from the article and am returning a little more focused on the goal. 216.41.123.210, I agree that I was focusing on some details and disregarding others, and for that I apologize.

I'm confident we can verifiably establish that SETI@home has consumed electricity that would not have otherwise been used. I think we can present the numbers we know, but we can't present an overall cost without verifiable sources for the missing variables. I totally agree that if we have a number of how many hours machines were used (X), we can multiply this times a wattage for PC usage (Y) and say that Z kilowatt-hours were consumed. X is quoted above as >2 million hours, though I can't locate a source for this statistic. Perhaps my misunderstanding is that I've believed this number represented the wall clock time elapsed when SETI@home was running, as opposed to actual seconds of CPU usage. From all I've seen, the standard way times are calculated in SETI@home stats is in wall clock hours per work unit.

Obtaining a reliable source for Y seems particularly challenging. The BOINC site estimates a PC running SETI@home uses 150 watts, but even if we accept this number as valid, this full number cannot be attributed to SETI@home usage unless a PC is powered on to exclusively run SETI@home. We'd really need a weighted average considering [at least] the following usage scenarios:

PC running other programs PC on 24x7 Electricity usage attributable to SETI@home
1 No Yes All
2 Yes Yes, but only for SETI@home When idle (normally powered off), all. Whenever PC in use, SETI@home can be attributed to the incremental increase in electricity consumption only.
3 Yes Yes, even when not running SETI@home Incremental increase in electricity consumption only
4 Yes No Incremental increase in electricity consumption only

Other points for 216.41.123.210:

  • Your source of electric rates indeed sounds more accurate than mine. Can you provide a URL? Googling wasn't helping me turn anything up.
  • I'm relieved that your words were chosen with civility in mind. As I'm sure you're aware, the lossy medium of printed word can cause a reader to perceive a tone the author never intended. When you choose words implying other editors can't perform basic arithmetic or are incapable of reading an electric bill, however innocent your intent, it can come off as uncivil. I'm not trying to tell you how to behave. I'm simply trying to explain your comments can be perceived.
  • Apologies, per your correction much further up this chain, that I misread the paper as an abstract. Nevertheless, I see nothing in the paper that indicates SETI@home's scientific value is exhausted (or even diminished) with greater than 100,000 machines.

216.221.201.26, regarding original research, I would say that I expect everything in this article to be derived from a third-party reputable source, and would agree that any items without such a source should be identified. Wikipedia, like any encyclopedia, should be no more than the compilation of ideas/facts from somewhere else: it should serve as a starting point for someone to do "real research" with the authoritative sources.

Finally, I've spent an enormous amount of time on this post because I felt it was important that we identify, possibly in excruciating detail, where we agree and where we disagree. Anyone like to take a stab at rewriting the "Billion Dollar Computation" section (including the title) in a manner that agrees with our consensus view? (I may do so tomorrow, but need to rest my brain for now.)

--Quintote (talk) 05:00, 31 December 2007 (UTC)




Thanks for the constructive reply, Quintote. As I've said before, I think that there is a worthwhile point to be made as far as electricity usage and SETI@home. The problem is that I'm unsure how it can be made without resorting to original research, given that as far as I know there seems to be a lack of reliable sources dealing specifically with SETI@home's electricity usage and/or resulting carbon emissions. It seems that the only way to estimate how much electricity use was attributable to SETI@home would be to find out:

  • How much of the time a user leaves their computer on exclusively for the purpose of running SETI@home when it would otherwise not be running
  • Users' average CPU load when using the computer for other purposes
  • Average power consumption range of users' computers, from idle to full CPU load
  • How often users have SETI@home run all the time in the background, or simply when they're not using the computer (regardless of whether it would otherwise be off)

To even estimate the monetary cost, it would be necessary to find out:

  • The proportions of SETI@home users in particular countries (or less, but preferably more, specific areas)
  • The average electricity rates, probably ignoring the fact that electric rates differ even between customers in the same area (residential, commercial, other large customers, etc)

Estimating carbon equivalent emissions would presumably be the most difficult, since it would rely on the previous two uncertain estimates together, and would need at least:

  • Data on the proportions of electicity production from different sources in the regions where there are SETI@home users (i.e., almost everywhere)
  • Data on the carbon emissions (and possibly other greenhouse gas emissions) from the different sources of electricity, presumably ignoring that:
  • Greenhouse gas emissions could vary by region even with the same source of electricity
  • Greenhouse gas emissions can be difficult to estimate, since it's not necessarily clear what to include -- does one include the emissions from mining uranium for nuclear power, for example?

Even if one had all this data it seems that all one could get is a pretty rough estimate. I'm tired too so I'm sure I missed stuff. Also please note that I do not claim to be an expert in this -- it's just something that interests me. Even with all these things in mind, it seems it would be difficult to make the point without violating W:NOR. Would it perhaps be possible just to make a table or something along those lines with what data can be found in reliable sources? The problem with that is it probably wouldn't make the point very clearly. Aside from that, all computer programs use electricity, and naturally the others don't receive such scrutiny (some for obvious reasons, but others not so much so). Alternately, there might be more general data available on the electricity usage and greenhouse gas contributions of computers. Or, it could simply be pointed out that a computer under full load (running SETI@home, for example) uses more electricity than one that is idle -- some people would not realize this, I assume. It might also make sense to give power consumption figures for some common computer setups, and maybe average electric rates in populous countries. Also, it is important to keep in perspective the relative contribution of SETI@home to worldwide electricity usage, whatever that percentage may be. So in short, I'm not really sure what to do about this section -- just throwing some ideas out there. Zahnrad (talk) 06:42, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

I'm open to whatever we come up with, but I'm having a hard time picturing how we can include these numbers and stay balanced on the fence between WP:NOR and WP:Weasel. (I know that WP:Weasel is a guideline, not a policy, but it's still an important consideration in creating a high-quality article.) FWIW, I included the table above only to illustrate the complexity of the problem, not in any way imagining it would be included in the article.
I think that "Greenhouse Gases and the Billion Dollar Computation" sounds like a great title for an op ed piece. If someone were to write and publish such a thing, we could then at the very least discuss public opinion on this issue. If someone wrote this as a scientific paper that was peer-reviewed, we may even be able to talk about the numbers.
Boy, I hoped I'd be up for taking a stab at the wording this morning, but I'm still not feeling it. :-) --Quintote (talk) 15:05, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Other than the issue of original research, I have to ask 'why'. Why are we adding this to SETI@Home? Are we going to go through ever energy-consuming project or enterprise in Wikipedia and add maths to figure out its energy cost? Are we going to cost the CERN particle accelerator, video games, TV shows (audience times television wattage) and so on? What's the point of engaging into this research to calculate how much energy SETI@Home consumes other than to serve as criticism made by a user heavily engaged with other SETI projects. --Alfmaia (talk) 1452, 2 January 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 212.44.19.206 (talk)
The element that makes energy usage unique for SETI@home, at least as it represents the prime example of distributed computing running on "idle cycles", is that it is viewed (or even presented) as being free, even misunderstood to consume no additional electricity. In fact, there is some additional cost and energy consumption taking place to run SETI@home, Folding@home, et al. (Disclaimer: this is me explaining things on the chat page. I have no verifiable sources for what I'm saying, which is why I can't merely add this text to the article, but I think the possibility that this is the case makes it valid to consider including it.)
I could be convinced to agree with you, but I want to remain as open as possible so we can reach a consensus. Once we do so, the admins can remove the page protection, and we can all go on with our wikilives, secure in the knowledge that this issue is laid to rest.  ;-)
--Quintote (talk) 19:54, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
The main thing we should keep in perspective when trying to reach a consensus is that, no matter what, this subject will remain as original research despite our best efforts to get accurate information. And even so, it will be a rough aproximation at best, missing the target by an order of magnitude or two. Processor wattage differs wildly from manufacturers, models (for instance, a desktop CPU consumes far more than a laptop one) and you need to add to it all the hardware that is kept powered on along (hard drives, video boards etc.) These also vary wildly and, no matter what, we'll never be able to establish how many CPU cycles are idle and allocated to SETI@Home versus dedicated usage -- simply because we don't have any source that tells us how many users do leave their machines on for SETI@Home against those who don't.
It's a fact that SETI@Home has an intrinsic energy cost attached to it, this is not on debate here. But so does every software and even Wikipedia. This thread alone is consuming energy, but how much I won't be able to tell. My point is that we won't be able to provide readers with any reasonably accurate information, so we'll be providing them noise or guesses. And to be honest, the value of this information itself is higly dubious since it's kind of obvious that anything running on a computer do consume energy and thus has an environmental impact. I say we let it go. Shall we open a vote? --Alfmaia (talk) 0930, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with Image:SETI@Home Logo.svg[edit]

The image Image:SETI@Home Logo.svg is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check

  • That there is a non-free use rationale on the image's description page for the use in this article.
  • That this article is linked to from the image description page.

This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --23:08, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

Rationale added. Adam McMaster (talk) 10:40, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

Locked Article[edit]

I would correct it myself if it wasn't.....the K Computer's computation speed is 8.162 petaflops, not 8162...... 94.171.57.7 (talk) 20:39, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Inaccuracies[edit]

There aren't 234 countries, and there never were(according to wikipedia itself)So.... What gives?--108.48.125.213 (talk) 02:34, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

Greenhouse gas impact section[edit]

The sources are links to outside content rather than references, there's a website just written down and a direction to come to the talk page for more information. I'll leave it here for others to decide on what should be changed. Acoma Magic (talk) 03:45, 29 August 2012 (UTC)