Ever heard of Set@home? Or maybe Folding@home. Well, if you haven't here is a quick 'all about it': A computer program is downloaded to your own PC/Mac/Whatever you use and it starts downloading data from somewhere in the Internet and then makes some (many) calculations on it and then sends back some data. Basically your computer is used as part of a large cloud computing service and meanwhile your CPU cycles are 'donated'. Which means that you CPU (or even GPU - depending on which is more powerful on your particular system) is constantly sniping at highest possible speed. Not very nice huh?
I do remember the days when the SETI community was large and the top 'donators' were geeks with high tech, high price PCs, proudly sharing their vision for the future (not without a hint of Sagan's Contact vivid imagery on their mind).
This was maybe 10 years ago.
Today even my smartphone can do more calculations than the PC I was using back then. Back in the days one chunk of data took almost 5 days to complete. I has friends who did not turn off their computer, ever, just to be able to 'fold more' or find the perfect candidate signal and be the first to detect the ET call to earthlings. Yeah, those were the days.
Today however we have 'the cloud'. It does not make sense to use individual's computer to make calculations. It makes more sense to use the cloud and just ask the individuals for the money required to run on the cloud. Indeed, this is what SETI is doing right now - sending email messages to every once registered and long gone user out there asking for money.
Well dear friends, as fascinating as I find the quest of finally finding those aliens (and hopefully they will not be of the 'Alien' species), hiding around the galaxies, teasing us with noises that only a few of humans can hear (yeah, try watching 'Conspiracy theories' - you will know everything about the aliens and their contracts with the powerful and rich of the day), today's computers are all about energy savings and efficiency and guess what - mathematical calculations do not tend to go easy on the energy usage. Besides back in the days I was using like 10 terminal applications and the only thing graphical was my browser. Back then there were a lot of free cycles available. Now days I prefer to keep those cycles for my browser. Or whatever. Just stay away from my fan. I hate fans....