You Can Help Scientists Find Gravitational Waves (By Doing Nothing)

R. Hurt/Caltech-JPL
R. Hurt/Caltech-JPL / R. Hurt/Caltech-JPL

Last month’s announcement that scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) had detected gravitational waves was a big one. It ended a decades-long hunt, further confirmed Einstein’s visionary work, and ushered in a new era of scientific exploration—one that you can have a hand in.

Einstein@Home is a downloadable screensaver that does some serious scientific work while your computer chills out. As Gizmodo reports, the program scans data from LIGO that was collected between September and January. The results are then shot back to a server.

Einstein@Home is searching for what Nature calls “slow-burn signals” which are weaker than the kind of ripple that LIGO observed last year (and announced last month). The source of these continuous-wave signals aren’t quite as dramatic as a black hole collision, but something more along the lines of spinning neutron stars (a.k.a. pulsars). According to their website, Einstein@Home volunteers have already discovered around 50 new neutron stars.

Visit Einstein@Home to get started (or as they say, “Catch a Wave From Space”). Happy hunting!

[h/t Gizmodo]