Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

How The Cryptocurrency Frenzy Is Interfering With Our Search For Alien Life

How The Cryptocurrency Frenzy Is Interfering With Our Search For Alien Life

Gamers aren't the only ones inconvenienced by the ongoing cryptocurrency mining craze.

He then explained "that's limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, 'Are we alone?"

"We'd like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]. and we can't get 'em", said Dan Werthimer. It's only happened on orders we've been trying to make in the last couple of months...

If Seti could get the GPUs, they could use them to improve their ability to analyze data at two observatories: Green Bank in West Virginia and Parkes in Australia. Because they don't know what frequency an extraterrestrial might broadcast on, SETI scans a vast array of different signal types in hopes of finding correspondence from alien lifeforms.

GPUs are also essential for researchers looking to process massive amounts of data, such as those scanning radio waves from giant expanses of the universe, looking for an alien signal.

These arrays can pick up the faintest of radio frequencies that have been flung across our solar system from elsewhere in the universe - often from natural phenomena such as collapsing stars.

Likewise, Nvidia has advised retailers to make arrangements to make sure that they're prioritizing gamers over miners.

Of course, astronomers aren't the only people affected by this shortage.

It has been created to listen to low frequency radio waves emitted by the reionising hydrogen gas that permeated the universe before the first stars and galaxies formed.

Across the world, the demand for GPUs has not only resulted in a bubble in the processor market, but a considerable shortage, leaving many of those who need them scrambling to find any.

The cost of high-end GPUs purchased by the group has doubled in the midst of cryptocurrency fever, from $1,000 to $2,000, Werthimer told RT.

According to Professor Parsons - who manages the HERA telescope -, it will be able to weather the storm, but the expansion will end up costing around $32,000 more than initially planned.

Parsons expressed concern that radio astronomy work, meanwhile, could be halted entirely if the GPU shortage continues.

The profitability of mining has, however, come under pressure in recent months after the price of Bitcoin dropped from its all-time high of around $20,000 to $9,700.

Nvidia - the most prominent GPU manufacturer - is working hard to meet demand, but materials are becoming increasingly scarce.

Other scientific institutions have been affected as well.

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