Harvard University and IBM have launched a project to harness the computing muscle of thousands of computers to discover cheap solar energy materials, CNET reports. The initiative, announced Dec. 8, is part of the IBM-sponsored World Community Grid, which seeks to speed up research on humanitarian challenges with a grid of connected computers. The idea is that people and organizations donate computing time to these efforts, and a grid server doles out tasks to disparate machines to speed up computational jobs. Existing World Community Grid projects are aimed at developing more nutritious rice, as well as conducting cancer and AIDS research. The Harvard project wants to test the chemical properties of a number of organic materials with the aim of determining which are most promising for use as solar cells. By parsing out the computing research across several computers, Harvard researcher Alan Aspuru-Guzik said that the project can be completed in just two years. Using a traditional supercomputer cluster to run the analysis would take 22 years, he said…

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