SETI at Berkeley

Our group conducts experiments searching for electromagnetic signatures of intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations, spanning wavelengths from radio to visible light, over ten orders of magnitude in characteristic time scale.

But we are unanimous in our conviction that the only significant test of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence is an experimental one. No a priori arguments on this subject can be compelling or should be used as a substitute for an observational program. -- Carl Sagan in Extraterrestrial Intelligence: An International Petition Science (1983)

SETI@home is the program and the project that involves millions of at home users from around the world in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Since 1999, volunteers have been able to recycle their unused computing cycles in helping to analyze data collected from radio telescopes in search of signals from other worlds. This unprecedented network of over 5 million independent SETI@home volunteers constitutes the world’s largest supercomputer.

SERENDIP is an acronym for “Search for Extraterrestrial Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations”, and like SETI@home, SERENDIP searches the radio band for potential signatures of ETI. Although SERENDIP does not analyze data to the same level of detail as the computing power of SETI@home allows, it scans a broader range of frequencies. The data used in SERENDIP is currently taken using the Arecibo L-band Feed Array (ALFA) on the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.

The extent of the SETI project is by no means limited to scanning radio frequencies. SEVENDIP stands for the 'Search for Extraterrestrial Visible Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations.' - Our Optical SETI effort. SEVENDIP employs a 30-inch automated telescope located in Lafayette, California to scan the sky for potential signals from E.T. Since its inception in 1997, SEVENDIP has pioneered the use of optical technology to search for nanosecond time-scale pulses—pulses that could be generated by the powerful laser of a distant civilization.

BOINC is the software that makes SETI@home possible. Downloading BOINC allows users to donate the unused CPU cycles of their personal computers to one of the scientific research projects supported by the software, in fields ranging from Astronomy to Earth Science, to Medicine. By consolidating the computing power of millions of machines, BOINC allows for a large amount of data to be processed and analyzed—all thanks to the at home volunteers.

IR Excess
The search for massive energy usage by an extremely advanced civilization.

The Center for Astronomy Signal Processing and Electronics Research, or CASPER is a research group at UC Berkeley working on improving the design of radio astronomy instrumentation, including SETI instruments.