I just had to ask. You see, my computer has a serious job to do while I sleep. When it's not busy defending itself from hackers and whatnot, it's busy crunching numbers. I have been participating in a couple of projects that use distributed computing to come up with solutions. The first project is for SETI@home. This project is sponsored by the University of California. I'm on the team "SimTechs With Time". So, for part of the free computing time my processors have, the SETI project uses my computer to search for intelligent life out in the universe. (Think "Contact" via the World Wide Web!)
The other project I participate in is a bit more down-to-earth. The Rosetta@home project, has my computer busily folding proteins which will help scientists get on with the real work of finding cures for things like Aids and Cancer. This project is sponsored by the University of Washington. My team on Rosetta is "More SimTechs With Time". If you're interested in helping with this worthwhile project, please join my team, even if you're not a Sim Tech!
Finally, if you're into puzzle-type computer games, but tire of the mindless and useless time-wasters, the Rosetta project has come up with a new game, Foldit! It starts out simple, with a series of puzzles to teach how to use the program. After finishing the tutorial section you move on to actual proteins, and, if you're into the competition, compete for the high scores. New 'puzzles' are added, and you can work solo or as part of a team. It's kind of an open-ended puzzle, in that you don't so much complete the puzzle, but find a solution that is most effective (reflected in the point value given). Still a mindless time-waster, but in the process you're doing something to help scientific research!
Now you know. Even when you're not using your computer, you can be using your computer. A CPU is a terrible thing to waste, especially when you've gone to the expense and effort of a tricked out machine. There are a number of projects you can attach to that are interesting and worthwhile. Just download the BOINC software, and pick a project. Happy computing!
Crunching numbers on Whidbey Island.