First appeared in Entertainment Weekly, May, 1999.
Like a plot from an episode of the X-Files, the quest to find alien intelligent life in the universe is about to expand to the World Wide Web—and your PC. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence at Home or SETI@home (setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu) wants you and your computer to help them look for life elsewhere. Backed by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley, SETI@home is asking you to sign up on the Internet to receive a special screensaver program designed to analyze radio-telescope data received from outer space. Online investigators will receive chunks of the radio data to analyze, decode, and then send back to the researchers each week. With over 100,000 erstwhile Muldars already signed up the project is expected to take 2 years--unless we make contact before then. Looking for interstellar radio messages a la Jodie Foster in Contact the SETI@home project could potentially involve millions of Netizens when it gets underway this fall. In the meantime, if you have a closer encounter and witness an alien craft cruising around this planet you can file a report online at the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle, WA, (www.nwlink.com/~ufocntr/). And if you get a chance, ask the little green men for their e-mail address. A