world community gridWhile you’re up, how about solving a problem or two? “World Community Grid” is a free program that harnesses the power of linking thousands of computers to solve problems. (We are proud to say we first suggested doing this in a column written more than thirty years ago.)

Download the freebie, powered by IBM, and scientists can use your computer or smart phone when you’re not. Right now they’re working on ways to detect cancer before it turns deadly. They’ve also found 35,000 materials with the potential to double solar cell efficiency.  (Thirty-five thousand?) And now they’re going after childhood’s most deadly diseases.

The free program, at, comes in a version for Windows and Mac as well as Android phones and lets you choose which projects you want to help with. We checked all of them and it didn’t slow our computer down even slightly. In less than 24 hours, we helped complete a project to find cancer markers.

NOTE: The program only works when your computer is on. But you can save energy by turning off your screen. With just the computer running but the screen dark, you’re using less electricity than a refrigerator light bulb.

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