Is this really an effective way to do research?
Research that involves computer calculations takes many forms. Often universities or private companies will shell out a small fortune to get the latest and greatest hardware to perform their research. Other entities will pay specialist companies to use their cloud computing resources, prodigious providers in this arena include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and others. And yet another way to perform research is to create applications that harness the power of multiple home users' computers, prominent examples of this method include FoldIt, CureCoin, and others. So it would seem the use of old hardware for scientific research is not as common as these other methods. However, the use of old computers for thise purpose is perhaps the best method, as it doesn't require spending enormous resources on brand new machines (which are often overpriced even when pruchased in bulk). It also doesn't require the cost of using cloud computing resources (which can quickly add up for intense and lengthy calculations). And it also doesn't experience problems that occur in distributed computing applications where lag and node uptime/downtime can fluctuate widely.
Wouldn't it be more cost effective to scrap the computers and sell the reclaimed metals to manufacturers?
Not necessarily. For very old systems, it may indeed be worthwhile to melt down the copper, aluminum, and gold containing components and sell them to computer manufacturers to re-use them in new machines. But the process of recycling these materials is costly itself, requiring harsh and toxic chemicals such as sulfuric acid and cyanide to purify the materials. The cost of correctly recycling e-waste is nontrivial but a necessary hindrance - as simply leaving e-waste in a landfill would be worse. Thus, it is in everyones interest to maximize the useful life of all machines as far as possible before committing them to permanent dismantlement.
What types of research do you do?
Our internal research primarily takes the form of life science and medical research, we perform various simulations of biological and chemical systems to see how disease affects normal function, and whether it would be possible to alleviate the effects of disease. We do research on a large variety of diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, Schizophrenia, Autism, Alzheimers, Parkinson's, and Cancer. All of our research results are publically accessible, free of charge, both on our website and in open access journals to which they are accepted.
What is Cluster Computing and how does it help with research?
Cluster computing is pretty much what it sounds like - using a cluster of computers to perform one task by breaking it down in to smaller parts that each individual computer can work on. This allows the problem at hand to be solved much faster than if one computer was working on it continuously. There are a lot of problems in science which rely on what are called "double point precision" calculations in order to be accurately answered - this is where cluster computers shine. Cluster computers can perform these high intensity calculations at a rate that is comparable or better than any high tier singular system (often these systems will have one motherboard and one central processing unit with multiple compute cards or graphics cards installed). Powerful computers come in many shapes and sizes, but often the machines that are great for video editing, 3D and Virtual reality gaming, and other types of rendering are not sufficient for the higher accuracy needed in scientific computations.
How can I help the cause?
We are always grateful for your donations of old machines. We take any and all types of computers - desktops, laptops, servers, etc... as even very old machines can contain parts that are useful for the cluster. You can also help by spreading the word about our mission and letting your friends and family know about us. If you would like to make a donation please let us know
That being said, there are also plenty of other entities that help recycle e-waste and prevent it from ending up in landfills. Consider some of the noteworthy causes listed below:
Takes old machines, working or not, fixes them, and sells the refurbished items at very affordable prices. They also have a volunteer program where you can learn to repair a computer and can get a free computer in the process.
Computers with Causes:
This nationwide organization takes old computers and makes them available to various charitable causes.
The National Cristina Foundation:
This 501c3 charity uses electronics donations to enable training, job development, and educational programs for the benefit of specific groups including those with disabilities.
Major electronic retailers typically have an e-waste management program. Notably, Apple, Staples, and Best Buy accept old electronics for recycling. Each program has it's rules and restrictions.
You can also try selling your old computers (and other electronics) for a modest gain via Craigslist, eBay, Usell, Gazelle, ecoatm, iReTron, and Glyde.
How does the donation process work?
Again, we truly appreciate all donations. The first step to donating is to contact us
. Donations incur no cost to you, as we pay for the shipping/pick-up costs. Once shipping arrangements have been made, simply drop off your package at a U.S. Post Office, and we will let you know when it arrives. Typically we only accept donations within the continental United States, though we may make acceptions for large batches or advanced hardware items that are located outside the U.S.