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Look for aliens, win cool prizes in spare time

(CNN) -- Want to win cool prizes and join hordes of humans searching for intelligent aliens? Just download a personal computer screensaver that crunches astronomical data during your spare time.

The Planetary Society, co-sponsor of program, expects that the 3 millionth participant will sign up next week to use the SETI@home software, the largest distributed computer experiment ever undertaken.

The winner will receive a DVD copy of Carl Sagan's series COSMOS, a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) poster autographed by SETI@home's chief scientist and a lifetime membership in the Planetary Society.

The wildly popular SETI@home project has enlisted the aid of people from more than 220 countries since it began two years ago, according to the society, the largest space interest group in the world.

The University of California, Berkeley, project harnesses the spare computing power of participating PCs to crunch data from the radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, the primary terrestrial instrument looking for signs of intelligence life on other worlds.

Virtual volunteers should visit either http://planetary.org or http://setiathome.berkeley.edu.

X-Prize contender shows off rocket prototype

(CNN) -- Hoping to win a $10 million prize, a Canadian team this weekend unveiled the prototype of a rocket that would blast into space with amateur astronauts.

The X-Prize Foundation has promised the prize to the first privately funded group that sends three humans the edge of space twice in 14 days in a spacecraft of its own construction.

The Canadian group, known as the da Vinci team, displayed its dream machine at the Toronto Aviation & Aircraft Show. The full-scale rocket is 24 feet long and weighs about 1,100 lbs.

The group, which plans to begin testing over the summer, hopes eventually to launch the rocket from the world's largest hot air balloon. It should then use rocket power to soar to the required minimum altitude of 62 miles.

Team da Vinci is one of 21 groups from around the world entered in the X-Prize competition, which is sponsored by commercial space enthusiasts based in St. Louis, Missouri.

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