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Distributed computing tackles climate change

Oxford University and the BBC have launched a partnership so people can donate their computers' otherwise unused processing power to a simulation of global climate change.

In its first week since launching the project, 80,000 people have signed up to join, organizers said Tuesday.

Climate modeling is a popular topic among those researching global warming, glacial melting and energy policy. Typically, simulations rely on massive supercomputers, but the project is designed to harness lowly PCs connected over the Internet.

Distributed computing projects also are under way for an SETI@home's alien communication search, Stanford protein folding simulations, Smallpox research and prime number quests.