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Citizen Scientists Use Einstein@Home Screensaver to Discover a New Pulsar


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Chris and Helen Colvin

Hey, amateur astronomers, listen to this: A couple of at-home space nuts recently discovered a pulsar with a screensaver that uses idle PC time to process data collected from telescopes. By using Einstein@Home to 'donate' a PC's processors to the pursuit of science, the program harnesses thousands of willing computers, rather than one supercomputer, to analyze data. This helps on-the-clock astronomers to cheaply continue their research while they sift through data collected from the Arecibo radio telescope and the LIGO gravitational wave detector.

Wells Fargo computer professionals Chris and Helen Colvin personally built the "run-of-the-mill" computer, which first discovered the pulsar on June 11th, before it was confirmed by another user, Daniel Gebhardt, in Germany on June 14th. The Colvins told Fox News, "It's just something that runs in the background and we don't think about it very much." The trio likely won't receive anything (besides bragging rights) for their discovery, but we think, at least, they should get to name the star. After all, their PCs could've just been wasting time playing retro video games instead. Check out an interview with the Colvins and Gebhardt after the break. [From: Science, Einstein@Home and The National Science Foundation, via: Fox News]

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SwitchedCitizen Scientists Use Einstein@Home Screensaver to Discover a New Pulsar originally appeared on Switched on Sun, 15 Aug 2010 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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