Your Computer Could Save the World While Idling


Photo via kevin1024

IBM and Harvard University would like to bum your computer for their science project that could revolutionize green energy. So, if you think it’d be neat to be one of the factors in changing the world, you can volunteer your computer. Read on for how, and more importantly, why. By utilizing a million computers for calculations while they’re idling away, Harvard University and IBM think they’ll be able to more quickly come up with a new, cheap way to create solar power. The project uses IBM’s World Community Grid, and folks who have volunteered their computers are linked up so the organizations can run calculations on them.

With the help of idling computers located around the globe, the researchers feel they could take a project with a 22-year estimated completion date and polish it off in just 2 years. So what's the project? It's the Clean Energy Project:

The Clean Energy project uses computational chemistry and the willingness of people to help look for the best molecules possible for: organic photovoltaics to provide inexpensive solar cells, polymers for the membranes used in fuel cells for electricity generation, and how best to assemble the molecules to make those devices. By helping us search combinatorially among thousands of potential systems, World Community Grid volunteers are contributing to this effort..

In other words, they want to quickly figure out how to make way more efficient solar cells that are cheap enough to use in commercial products anyone can afford.

More than a million people are already linked in to IBM’s World Community Grid, which makes it as powerful at computing as some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

If you’re interested in being a volunteer, all it takes is downloading a bit of software (which includes a security package), and the calculations run as a screensaver.

So essentially, you’re volunteering your computer, as well as footing a fraction of the power bill, since your computer won’t be in power save mode during these calculations.

But this is one area where the power isn’t being wasted – it’s being used for a great environmental cause. So we’d thumbs up a bit of computer idling during the day if it means having radically more efficient solar cells marching out in just a few years. The grid is used for a whole lot of other very worthwhile humanitarian causes beyond clean tech, so it's a good way to feel ok about not turning your computer off during your lunch break.

Via Reuters
More on IBM:
IBM's iDataPlex is NASA's Supercomputer of Choice for Climate Simulations
IBM Gathering More Utilities for Smart Grid Deployment
IBM Uses Hot Water To Cool Supercomputers

Tags: Computing | Solar Power | Solar Technology