I wanted to put up a post about grid or distributed computing. If there is a problem which can be solved by a computer, that's great. What happens when it would take a single computer a thousand years to compute the solution? The answer is to break the problem down into as many small pieces as possible and to compute them all at the same time! Now the problem for someone with a large problem set is no longer a lack of time to compute their final result, but a lack of computing resources. This is where the BOINC project and World Community Grid come in.
The BOINC project provides a framework for distributed computing, essentially providing the client and server software which facilitates the distribution of work units for the various computing resources available.
World Community Grid takes advantage of the BOINC framework to allow people (that's us) to volunteer the use of their spare CPU cycles and bandwidth to one or many scientific issues which scientists have requested computed solutions for. Current projects include drug research, cancer research, AIDS research, as well as clean energy and water research.
As a group of people, we have considerable computing resources going to waste when we leave our computers unattended for toilet breaks, making coffee, going shopping, or sleeping. If you like to contribute your computer's spare time to helping humanity, take a look at the above links and let me know if you need any help. If there is a group of people from the site interested in doing this, we can form a team and track our combined contributions as well as our individual contributions (Let me know!).