Recycling Your CPU: Find a Cure For Cancer, Locate Extra-Terrestrial Life Or Make The Internet More Efficient
During the times you leave your computer idle, your CPU is just being wasted. According to a Tel Aviv University (TAU) professor, there are some great ways to put all that number computing potential to good use. While researching ways to map out the shape of the Internet, Yuval Shavitt, an engineer, chanced upon a community that has collected millions of volunteers to monitor electromagnetic radiation in the sky. Calculations done on their computers are working to see if there is someone on another planet trying to communicate with Earth. (Beep beep beep. Beep beep. Beep. Earth to TreeHuggers?)
Seeing the potential of such collective efforts, he asked people to donate their CPU to help him develop a topological map of the Internet. The goal was to help determine major nodes of usage of Internet highways and sidetrack them so applications can better select peers for performing a certain task, like sharing a file.Better understanding of the Internet's topology can improve other processes as well, such as web surfing, and voice and video streaming applications. In the process, Shavitt discovered that the Internet is shaped like a sphere with a dense nucleus.
"What we are doing is exactly like Astronomy but at the micro level," says Shavitt, "This is a green initiative because it makes use of CPU that would just go to waste. In fact, we use very little CPU, so we are even greener than other 'distribute computing' projects."
Shavitt developed a software called DIMES and has found 5,500 international volunteers to download the program to 12,000 computers at locations from New York to Tokyo. Taking brief measurements of where the PCs connect to "nodes" (Internet service providers and large information hubs such as Google), Shavitt determined with his mathematical model that the Internet is sphere-shaped and contains three primary layers.
Since publishing his research and intentions to map out weekly visualizations of the Internet, reports the press release issued by the University, Shavitt has sparked interest not only in the scientific community, but also among artists and spiritual seekers. He says, "I have had people contact me looking for the connection between the evolution of the Internet and the concept of Zen. While interesting to delve into these questions, I am mostly interested in the forces that drive the Internet and to help make the system work better."