Brony@Home was originally founded by hiigaran late in 2011 as a team for Folding@Home, one of the most well known and widely used distributed computing projects. Such was the success, that only shortly after its creation, hundreds of users had joined the team, competitions were held, and eventually the group grew from a team on a single project, to the My Little Pony fandom's hub for everything regarding distributed computing projects. World Community Grid, Rosetta@Home, and SETI@Home are just some of the many other projects that our members now contibute to under the Brony@Home banner.
In late 2015, the team expanded once again, to tap into an area with massive potential. While our computers are busy working on distributed-computing, our minds focused on the direct-involvement citizen science projects, such as EyeWire and the Zooniverse projects. These require free time, as opposed to computers, thus allowing even people on slower computers to make a significant impact on science.
We play host to regular competitions, both on our own, as well as through collaboration with other groups, as a way to attract more members and further the progress of science through prize incentives. Prizes have ranged from Steam games and OC drawings, to sizable plushies, video cards, clothing merchandise and engraved lighters, with the record for the number of members signing up for a competition held at 1328.
For more information on competitions, visit the Competitions page.
Firstly, what is distributed computing? Essentially, it is the splitting up of large amounts of work in to many tiny pieces, then getting others to work on them. This is a popular method for many non-profit organisations where those running the projects cannot afford to hire out a supercomputer to perform the tasks. By assigning a large number of volunteers to these smaller chunks of work, these organisations can create what is essentially one giant, global supercomputer. In many cases, the total combined power of all these volunteers actually exceeds the power of a supercomputer, and hence, more progress is made.
However, distributed computing is not just limited to this. Other types of projects, such as EyeWire and Wildlife@Home fall under this category as well, even though they arent 'computing' projects in the same sense as most others. Some projects will use spare internet bandwidth, while others will forego any actual computing, and require you as a person to assist directly.
The Brony@Home team spans across over 60 projects, some of which have sub-projects of their own. Due to the sheer number of distributed computing projects that exist, many of them are united under a single program named BOINC that allows you to easily choose which projects you would like to contribute to. Below are some short descriptions of every project we participate in, along with a link to each homepage. All projects run under BOINC, unless otherwise stated with a "(Standalone)" beside their names.
If you are unsure of what to run, or do not wish to read through all the descriptions to figure out which project(s) you would like to contribute to, here are our recommendations:
The following projects should always be attached, and can run simultaneously:
These projects use almost no resources of any kind, so they are perfect for the slowest systems. However, you do need specialised equipment for Radioactive@Home. As for WUProp, it will gather data from any other BOINC projects running alongside it to help other users. Unlike the first three, DIMES does not run on the BOINC platform, but is still good to run for low-end systems, and therefore, every system.
In addition to the aforementioned projects, if you have a fast video card, it would be best used on Folding@Home, especially since Folding@Home is able to adjust video card usage in a more effective manner, based on your personal usage. While some BOINC projects also use the video card, using the computer while using the video card may cause performance issues, unless you set the video card to only run when the computer is idle.
For everyone else, you can run one or more of these projects:
This is the most popular single project, which aims to understand protein assembly, colloquially known as "folding". By simulating the entire construction of a protein, Folding@Home hopes to gain insight into how and why proteins sometimes fold incorrectly and cause many well-known diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's.
POEM@Home, also known as Protein Optimization with Energy Methods, works towards predicting protein structures, how proteins process signals when interacting with each other, and tries to further understand the diseases related to proteins, so that drugs may be developed to counter them. In some ways, it's similar to Folding@Home, but this project is not limited to only proteins, with other biological and physical science research being worked on as well.
By studying the DNA of cells, this project attempts to further our understaning of biology through genome organisation, by unraveling the mysteries behind how and why the DNA inside a nucleaus is arranged and constructed in a 3D manner.
Using cognitive process modeling, the purpose of this medical science project is to better understand the human mind, to better explain the mechanisms and processes enabling and moderating performance and learning.
Using both distributed computing, as well as direct user assistance, Ibercivis works towards many medical science-related fields. Despite all these projects, only one is available through BOINC, which predicts how ligands interact with drug targets.
Perhaps the most unique project, Wildlife@Home is different to every other distributed computing project in the sense that there is no actual computing involved. Volunteers watch short videos of birds and make a few simple observations, for the purposes of studying behaviour at different locations, in part due to human development.
Using external seismographs connected to computers, or internal accelerometers in modern laptops and phones, the Quake-Catcher Network is designed to act as a global, unified sensor for pinpointing the location of earthquakes, and well as giving earlier warnings for regions that may be at risk. This is a non-intensive project, meaning that it uses almost no processing power. You can order a seismograph from the Quake-Catcher request page. If you live in an area of interest, you can receive a sensor for free, as outlined in the link.
Working in conjunction with astronomers, Einstein@Home searches for the weak signals caused by spinning neutron stars, commonly known as pulsars. Ultimately, this project intends to find the first direct detections of gravitational-wave emissions from pulsars; a wave first predicted to exist by Albert Einstein himself, but never directly detected.
Another of the most well-known distributed computing projects, SETI@Home, also known as the Search for ExtraTerretrial Intelligence, searches for narrow-bandwidth radio signals in space, which are known to never occur naturally, and thus suggest extraterrestrial technology.
Despite being aware of the existence of many asteroids, most of their physical properties remain unknown, beyond their sizes and trajectories. By analysing the behaviour and motion of asteroids, it is possible to create a detailed 3D image of each, so that our understanding of the physical properties of asteroids may be broadened.
A non-intensive project that requires a geiger counter connected to your computer to measure levels of gamma radiation in your vicinity. If you do not have a geiger counter that can work with a computer, the Radioactive@Home team creates batches of them on occasion, which sell between $30 to $40, or 27 Euros.
Building integers with prime factors, NFS@Home has a simple goal of computing the lattice sieving step in the number field sieve factorisation of large integers. Through these results better algorithms can be created for improved computer security.
A mathematical project that aims to find the finite number of values that satisfies the ABC conjecture. If the values prove the conjecture true, it allows many other problems to be answered directly from it.
Seventeen or Bust sets out to solve the Sierpinski problem in mathematics, which is quite simply: What is the smallest Sierpinski number? This question has been around since 1960. As of 2014, only six numbers remain, which may be possible answers to this question.
One of the most popular BOINC projects, the World Community Grid is a generalised project that deals with many different problems, mostly pertaining to third-world countries, such as researching effective and cheap water filtration systems, or studying poverty-related illnesses and methods to better counter them.
Run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (hence the name CAS), this is a general project that runs both physical science projects such as solid and fluid motion on the nanoscale, and biological projects such as protein structure prediction.
Designed to crawl the web, the Majestic-12 project works towards the creation of a new type of search engine, controlled by the users through their collective crawling. Perfect for users with unlimited downloads and plenty of bandwidth to spare. Best of all, you get paid every three months for it!
By using many different people in different geographical locations, DIMES attempts to create what is essentially a map of the internet, by studying the structure and topology of it. Unlike most other distributed computing projects, DIMES requires almost no processing power or internet bandwidth to function.
While many people mine bitcoins for personal gain, others prefer to donate what they mine to scientific endeavours. This project essentially gets volunteers to mine for the project, so that the money may be put towards organisations that need the funding.