Press Release

SETI@home Names Lucky 3 Millionth User

By SpaceRef Editor
May 16, 2001
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Bernd Ziegler of Germany is the lucky 3 millionth user of SETI@home, a
search for extraterrestrial intelligence that marks its second anniversary
on May 17, 2001. SETI@home sponsors, The Planetary Society and Cosmos
Studios, will award Ziegler a lifetime membership in The Planetary Society,
Carl Sagan’s television series COSMOS on DVD, and a SETI poster signed by
Project Director David Anderson and Chief Scientist Dan Werthimer.

The largest distributed computing experiment ever undertaken, this
University of California, Berkeley project uses a computer program that
analyzes scientific data while acting as a screen-saver on personal computers.

“Is this a hoax? Are you really David Anderson?” was Ziegler’s surprised
response to the e-mailed news that he was the three millionth user.

Ziegler is a physicist who specializes in optics and lasers, whose hobbies
are philosophy, astronomy and karate. He first read about SETI@home one
month ago in a magazine article.

Since Ziegler joined the SETI@home community last week on May 7, the
project has signed up over 20,000 more participants, and the number keeps

SETI@home went on-line two years ago on May 17, 1999 to wide acclaim and
worldwide attention. For the first time, ordinary citizens anywhere could
actually participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

The Planetary Society will commemorate SETI@home’s turning two years old
with the debut of a new website feature called “SETI: A Short History,” a
13-part series on the modern history of the search for extraterrestrial
intelligence. New installments will be posted at
at weekly intervals.

SETI@home harnesses the spare computing power of over three million
Internet-connected personal computers around the world to crunch data from
the radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico. To date, SETI@home
participants have collectively logged 664 millennia of computer time — by
far the largest computation ever performed.

SETI@home was conceived by computer scientist David Gedye, along with Craig
Kasnoff and astronomer Woody Sullivan. The project’s start-up funding came
from The Planetary Society, and Cosmos Studios has now joined with the
Society in continuing SETI@home sponsorship. Other sponsors include the
University of California; Sun Microsystems; Fujifilm Computer Products;
Quantum Corp.; and Paramount Pictures, which provided partial funding to
The Planetary Society for this project.

Designed to tap into the enormous power of hundreds of thousands of
personal computers, SETI@home participation was initially pegged at 200,000
to 300,000 people. Sign-ups proved to be 10 times that number and are still
rising, with an average of 2,500 new participants joining each day.
SETI@home users represent a wide cross-section of the public and log in
from 226 different countries.

SETI@home is one of six projects in the Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence supported by The Planetary Society — the world’s largest
space interest group, and longest running funder of SETI projects on Earth.

To sign-up to help with the search, participants should go to one of the
following two web sites: The Society’s at or the
SETI@home site at

SpaceRef staff editor.