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Distributed Computing Projects

We are currently hard at work on two important distributed computing projects, Stanford University’s Folding@Home (our primary research program), and UC Berkeley’s pioneering SETI@home (which we work on in our spare time). We have considerable computing resources dedicated to these two projects. We have been working on these projects since the lab was founded in September 2001 -- they were our very first research projects. Read on to find out what these projects are and why they are so important that we started the company just to pursue them. But first...

What is distributed computing?

Distributed computing is a novel method of carrying out large scale mathematical computations that would previously have been impossible, or at least incredibly difficult, to complete. Even the largest supercomputers have a difficult time solving certain ambitious mathematical calculations. Distributed computing efforts seek to overcome this obstacle by utilizing the surplus processing power of millions of computers connected to the Internet to create the equivalent of a single, massively parallel computer that can solve in days problems that would otherwise have taken years to finish. Through networks of dedicated volunteers, distributed computing makes it possible for anyone, even non-scientists, to participate in research at the frontiers of science. It will still be some time before we realize the full potential of distributed computing as a technique, but it is already showing great promise.


Folding@home is a non-profit distributed computing project run by the Pande Group at Stanford University’s chemistry department. The purpose of the project is to determine exactly how protein molecules “fold” (that is, assemble themselves). While the subject matter involves complex biophysics and chemistry and consequently is very difficult to for the non-scientist to understand (and for me to describe to you), the goals of the project are not -- the results of this research could have significant direct and indirect impact on the development of cures for diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Due to the potentially life saving importance of this project, Craig Research Labs has dedicated the bulk of our resources to Folding@home for the immediate future. Most of our in house computers are running this program around the clock and we are looking for additional volunteers to join our team and help us by running it on their computers at home and at work. We are in the process of purchasing additional computers to help the work get done even faster. Join us as a volunteer by clicking here. For updates on our efforts go to our Site News page.


SETI@home is a non-profit radio astronomy project run by a team of researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and is of major importance to the international effort to Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You may have heard of SETI if you have been fortunate enough to see the film Contact starring Jodi Foster (if you have not seen this movie, go rent it tonight because it is one of the most inspiring movies ever made - I guarantee you’ll enjoy it). In brief, the SETI@home program uses hundreds of thousands of computers connected to the Internet to analyze data collected by project SERENDIP at the world’s largest radio telescope located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The project has detected several candidate signals which are currently being subjected to further analysis.

The SETI@home program is important not just for the science it is doing, but also because it was the first major distributed computing project undertaken on the Internet. It is also currently the largest, having 3,206,963 users who have collectively contributed 697,789.650 years of computing time as of this writing (Wednesday, August 15, 2001). The success of SETI@home has been instrumental in helping to get many other distributed computing projects off the ground.

Craig Research Labs has a SETI@home team which you are encouraged to join as a volunteer by clicking here. However, we can currently contribute only a modest amount of our in-house computing resources to this project for the following reasons:

-While we fully support the goals of the project (it would be revolutionary if they actually found an extraterrestrial signal), Craig Research Labs has finite computing resources which we have to budget very carefully. We are dedicating most of those to Folding@home because it more closely parallels our primary goal of bringing about an acceleration in the pace of fundamental scientific research than does SETI@home. The results being generated by Folding@home are currently on the cutting edge of biological science and will no doubt be used as a practical foundation for a great deal of addition research by others. This will eventually lead to innovative medical treatments for currently incurable diseases.

-In addition, we feel that the SETI@home program is already more than adequately empowered by its more than three million users. In fact the folks at SETI@home have so much computing power available to them that they recently had to rewrite their software to make it search the telescope data more deeply because users were sending back work units faster than the server could generate them. However, if you wish to join our SETI@home team, please feel free to do so.

Click to Cure Cancer

On November 8th, 2002 we launched a new "click to donate" site to raise money for cancer research. Donations may be made for FREE by our site visitors and are paid for by advertisers sponsoring the program. All donations we receive through this program are sent to third party 501(c)(3) nonprofit cancer charities to assist in finding a cure for this devastating disease.

Please visit this page daily (you may use the blue button above or the navigation links on the left hand side of any of our pages) and help us Click to Cure Cancer!

Science Image Archive

Craig Research Labs maintains a science image archive containing thousands of images. The contents of the archive are available at no charge for educational use (for example by science teachers in their classroom activities) and may be licensed at very reasonable rates for advertising, publishing, web design, or other commercial uses.

Future Projects

We always looking for promising new science programs and innovative technologies to fund. New research activities will be inaugurated as permitted by the growth of our budget. If you have an idea that you would like to suggest to us for review, please email the director at