"Some computational problems, such as defeating today’s commercial encryption, strain even the most powerful machines. Adam Beberg has figured out how to tackle such challenges: Throw the unused time of 10,000 computers at them. Such ""distributed computing"" promises greater access to number-crunching power, possibly leading to scientific and technological breakthroughs. For example, SETI@home, a search for intelligent life in the universe, is following Beberg’s lead with a distributed computing scheme to analyze radio telescope data. In a realm with more commercial significance encryption Beberg’s ideas have already paid off. In 1997, he founded a nonprofit group called Distributed.net. During the group’s first year, it hosted an alliance of computers called the Bovine Cooperative, which won a prize by breaking a form of encryption known as RC5.Beberg left Distributed.net in April to work on Cosm, an open-source distributed computing project. Says former colleague Michael Labriola, now CEO of Invisible Web Publishing: ""The ideas that came intuitively to him could literally change the world."