from the making-up-new-words dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Distributed computing could help researchers studying climate change or Alzheimer's, but SETI@home's search for extra-terrestrial intelligence continues to dominate. Wall Street Journal columnist Lee Gomes says that's a big waste, especially because SETI doesn't seem likely to yield results: 'This continued fascination with living-room SETI comes as professional setiologists concede that early assumptions about the search for intelligent life -- notably those popularized by astronomer Carl Sagan -- have proven naively optimistic. For instance, it's now conceded there is little chance of detecting the "leaking" transmissions of another planet -- its version of "I Love Lucy" broadcasts. Those signals are too weak to stand out from the universe's background noise.' Gomes also traces the origins of SETI@home to Berkeley computer scientist David P. Anderson, and explains that users stuck with the ET search rather than medical investigations in part because of nationalistic competition. Yet Anderson no longer runs SETI@home. 'Instead, he donates his spare computer power to a global warming project. But he doesn't presume to tell others what they ought to be doing with their CPU cycles.'"
It isn't easy being the parent of a six-year-old. However, it's a pretty small
price to pay for having somebody around the house who understands computers.