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Now You Can Help Scientists Understand the Universe

A new distributed computing project allows people around theworld to participate in cutting-edge cosmology research by sharing their unusedcomputing cycles.

Designed by an astronomy professor, Cosmology@Home issimilar to SETI@Home, the popularsoftware program that searches radio telescope data for evidence of extraterrestrial transmissions.

"When you run Cosmology@Home on your computer, it usespart of the computer's processingpower, disk space and network bandwidth," said project leader Benjamin D.Wandelt, who teaches astronomy and physics at the University of Illinois. "Our goal is to search for cosmologicalmodels that describe our universeand agree with available astronomical and particle physics data."

To accomplish this, participating computers will calculatepredictions made by millions of theoretical models with different parameters. The predictionsare then compared with data, which include fluctuations in the cosmic microwavebackground, large-scaledistributions of galaxies and the universe?sacceleration.

Cosmology@Home could also help design future cosmologicalobservations and prepare for the analysis offuture data sets, such as those to be collected by the Planck spacecraft, Wandelt said.

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Space.com Staff
Space.com Staff

Space.com is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, Space.com is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.