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1 de febrer del 2005
Home PCs Predict Hotter Earth
Global warming may ramp up average temperatures by 20 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 50 years, according to the first climate prediction experiment relying on the distributed computer power of 90,000 personal computers. The startling results were published this week in the journal Nature.
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The PCs, located in 150 countries, allowed British scientists to run more than 50,000 simulations of the future global climate, many more than the "best ever" 128 simulations using supercomputers, said Myles Allen, chief scientist of climateprediction.net and a physicist at Oxford University. A distributed-computing project, climateprediction.net involves several British universities and the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.

Prior climate simulations have used "nothing close to the kind of computing power we were able to use in this experiment," said Allen.

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Climateprediction.net is based on the successful SETI@home public-computing model. SETI, or Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, involves several million people who have downloaded software that analyzes data from distant galaxies for signs of alien life. The program does its work while their computers are idle and then uploads the results every few days or weeks.

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Now, in addition to climate modeling, several other science projects are taking advantage of the enormous computing power of the world's 200 million-plus PCs, very few of which are being tapped, said Anderson.

Climate simulations are ideal for distributed computing because so many simulations need to be run in parallel to test all the variables, he said. When a participating PC is idle, it chugs away on a simulation and after two or three months, it uploads the results to the climateprediction.net server.

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