CERN is encouraging PC users to donate spare computing power in a bid to complete research on atom smashing.

Under the [email protected] 2.0 project, which was launched in public beta this week, PC owners can download open-source virtualisation software to their machine that will simulate particles colliding at almost the speed of light in the same way it takes place in CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

CERN will then check the particle smash data against those held in the LHC. If the data differs, CERN believes this could be a sign of a new phenomena regarding mass.

[email protected] 2.0 is just one of the projects run by the Citizen Cyberscience Centre – which has been developed by CERN, in conjunction with UNITAR (the UN Institute for Training and Research) and the University of Geneva, in a bid to utilise unused PC power in volunteer-based science and technology research.

"While [email protected] is a great opportunity to encourage more public involvement in science, the biggest benefits of citizen cyberscience are for researchers in developing regions who have limited resources for computing and manpower," said Sergio Bertolucci, Director of Research and Scientific Computing at CERN.

"Online volunteers can boost available research resources enormously at very low cost. This is a trend we are committed to promote through the Citizen Cyberscience Centre".

CERN said [email protected] 2.0 currently has around 2,000 volunteers but it hop-es to get 50,000 to take part eventually.