ATLAS@Home is a research project that uses volunteer computing to run simulations of the ATLAS experiment at CERN. You can participate by downloading and running a free programme on your computer.
ATLAS is a particle physics experiment taking place at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, that searches for new particles and processes using head-on collisions of protons of extraordinary high energy. Petabytes of data were recorded, processed and analyzed during the first three years of data taking, leading to up to 300 publications covering all the aspects of the Standard Model of particle physics, including the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012.
Large scale simulation campaigns are a key ingredient for physicists, who permanently compare their data with both "known" physics and "new" phenomena predicted by alternative models of the universe, particles and interactions. This simulation runs on the WLCG Computing Grid and at any one point there are around 150,000 tasks running. You can help run even more simulations by using your computer's idle time to run these same tasks.
No knowledge of particle physics is required, but for those interested in more details, at the moment the team simulates the creation and decay of supersymmetric bosons and fermions, new types of particles that the researchers would love to discover next year, as they would help to shed light on the dark matter mystery.
The programme you will download runs simulation software inside a virtual machine hosted by your computer. The virtual machine image is ~500MB but is only downloaded once. Each workunit downloads a small set of input data and runs for approx 1 to 2 hours depending on the computer's processor speed.
THE ATLAS@Home project is still under development, and it cannot be guaranteed that jobs will be free from errors or that there will always be work available.
More information can be found at http://atlas.ch/