I am active with some distributed computing projects.
Before I go any further, I should explain that distributed computing is a field of computer science that uses many internet connected computers to solve problems or process data. These computers communicate and coordinate their actions by passing messages. The components interact with each other in order to achieve a common goal.
I first started in 2002 when I had a P4 running at 2ghz, and I left this on 24 hours a day to download via p2p software (ahem) and thought it an inefficient single use for the power consumption. I looked around at what I could do with my redundant cpu cycles, and found two projects. One - the Porivo Peer allowed you to earn a modest sum of money per month, which helped me claw the cost of the electricity used back. The other was Seti@home. Seti@home was already a 2 year old project which turned into a platform for many other projects, the platform is called BOINC and I am now active on several projects.
ClimatePrediction.net - We run climate models on people’s home computers to help answer questions about how climate change is affecting our world, now and in the future
Seti@home - yes, I help look for little green men. SETI@home is a scientific experiment, based at UC Berkeley
theSkyNet POGS - the PS1 Optical Galaxy Survey - TheSkyNet POGS is a research project in astronomy. We will combine the spectral coverage of GALEX, Pan-STARRS1, and WISE to generate a multi-wavelength UV-optical-NIR galaxy atlas for the nearby Universe. We will calculate physical parameters such as: star formation rate, stellar mass of the galaxy, dust attenuation, and total dust mass of a galaxy; on a pixel-by-pixel basis using spectral energy distribution fitting techniques.