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Sorry for the OT post, but this is such a great idea I had to share. According to an article in the New York Times:

    I.B.M. plans today to announce a project to harness untapped computing power from millions of personal computers to help unlock the genetic mysteries of illnesses like AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, malaria and cancer.

    The project, called the World Community Grid, was developed in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, the United Nations and other organizations, and represents a significant step in the use of the Internet to foster collaborative scientific research. The goal is to combine computer resources and the shared knowledge of researchers to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery...To succeed, the community grid project will require a willingness by millions of volunteers to contribute the unused computing capacity of their personal computers...

    Researchers wishing to take advantage of the grid must agree to keep their research and software tools in the public domain...

    Those wishing to join the grid project and donate computer time will be able to download software from a Web site, www.worldcommunitygrid.org. When the machine is turned on but not in use, the program will use it as part of the computing grid.

OK, so my computer's been searching for ETs for a long time through the SETI@home program. While my stash of Reese's Pieces still goes un-munched by extraterrestrial mouths, I still think this is a worthwhile project. But I think I'm going to switch my unused computer power to a cause that's a little closer to home after hearing about this one.

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