The World Community Grid is a not-for-profit distributed computing project sponsored by IBM, which uses software called BOINC to distribute work units to participating computers. These computers then typically use their spare computing power to process this work. Distributed computing is not new; the good thing about the World Community Grid is that the work units are based around scientific research aimed at solving a number of the world's problems, including disease prevention and cure, renewable energy and clean water. I am particularly keen on the Clean Energy Project, which is discovering new materials for photovoltaic solar cells.
Of course, computing power doesn't come for free. A virtual machine on my server computer uses 10W-15W to process a single work unit. During the winter though, most of that power goes into the house as heat, so it's not so bad. I regard the energy I donate to the grid as a charitable donation.
The World Community Grid keeps a ranking of participants based on run time, points accumulated and the number of units of work processed. Badges are awarded for reaching significant milestones. I have now achieved the Diamond 20 badge for twenty years of processing time on the Mapping Cancer Markers project, and have attained numerous other badges.
Participants can organise themselves into teams, which are ranked by various criteria. I was a team of one for a long time, but after 5 CPU years and 10 million points I decided to join the UK Team instead. As the graphic below shows, I have now donated over 60 years of CPU time. I have produced a website for the UK team and signature graphics (the lower of the two below is mine), summarising all the interesting statistics. I've also met some great people on the team forum.
If you'd like to join the World Community Grid, and play a small part in tackling some of the world's big problems, click either of the info-graphics below.