Scientists searching for waves of gravitational energy that stretch space and time will soon be seeking the public’s help in analysing their data.
Researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) hope to enlist up to a million personal computers in their search for sources of the waves, which have long been predicted but never seen.
Their distributed-computing scheme, set to launch this month, aims to be one of the largest projects of its kind ever created. The software is already in beta testing.
Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity lays out the idea that gravity distorts space and time. As a test of his theory, Einstein predicted that waves of gravity would ripple through the cosmos. Some claim such waves have been spotted indirectly, from observations of how paired stars influence each other’s orbits, but nobody has seen them firsthand.