= BOINC is a software platform for volunteer computing and desktop Grid computing.
"Use the idle time on your computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) to cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research."
"BOINC is an open source, usable way to create massive parallel supercomputers. BOINC is an evolution of the software that was created to process SETI@home
BOINC is now used by quite a few different projects to use volunteer spare computing time to solve different problems, from studying malaria data, to predicting climate change, to exploring nanotechnology.
The potential of BOINC and Swarm Computing, by Sam Rose:
"For anyone who is tasked with supoorting their own research and development, volunteer grid computing can be a powerful resource. it can give people the power to employ search through huge volumes of data in a small amount of time, for a low cost. A person could write some evaluation programs or data models, and send data to BOINC clients that users run like screen savers. (see http://boinc.berkeley.edu/trac/wiki/VirtualCampusSupercomputerCenter) The BOINC project provides both clients and servers under an open source license.
So, let's say that you wanted to run very complex datamining models on sound data that comes from microphones placed in the outdoors around Europe. Perhaps you have developed an idea to create a baseline way to measure a healthy ecosystem based on the sound in the environment. BOINC would let you split up all of that data into chunks and analyze it for just certain sound signatures. Crunching all of this data might otherwise be too large for any average computing system to take on in a reasonable amount of time. Even more, software liek BOINC makes powerful supercomputing available to many people. It makes massive search available, as described by Kevin Kelly."
http://boinc.berkeley.edu/trac/wiki/VolunteerComputing is a good overview of concepts.