The raging cryptocurrency mining craze seems to have escalated from merely throttling your computer systems’ velocity and performance to now even impeding science. The work of researchers attempting to find proof of extraterrestail life is reportedly being hampered by cryptocurrency miners.
Questioning what Bitcoin has to do with alien hunting? In line with Dr Daniel Werthimer, chief scientist for the SETI (Seek for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) mission on the College of California-Berkeley, there’s presently a scarcity of an necessary technological element, referred to as graphics processing items (GPUs), that alien hunters use to look for extraterrestial signals.
GPU chips at the moment are not as simply out there as earlier than. Actually, the worth of GPUs has reportedly doubled just lately.
“We might like to make use of the most recent GPUs [graphics processing units]… and we won’t get ’em,” Dr Werthimer told the BBC. He added that SETI’s plans to increase operations at two observatories are being held up due to the GPU scarcity.
The scarcity has reportedly been attributable to a current spike in demand for GPUs. It’s because GPUs are additionally used to mine for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and ZCash. Actually, GPUs have change into so wanted that cryptocurrency miners are reportedly shopping for them out in bulk.
“That is limiting our seek for extra-terrestrials, to attempt to reply the query, ‘Are we alone? Is there anyone on the market?’,” Dr Werthimer stated. “This can be a new drawback, it is solely occurred on orders we have been attempting to make within the final couple of months. We have the cash, we have contacted the distributors, and so they say, ‘We simply do not have them’.”
Though GPUs have been initially designed for visible duties resembling making PC video games look cool, their velocity and extremely processing energy led to cryptocurrency miners starting to hoard them. GPUs are perfect for processing advanced mathematical puzzles which might be concerned in mining for cryptocurrencies.
GPUs are additionally important for researchers seeking to course of large quantities of knowledge, resembling these scanning radio waves from large expanses of the universe, in search of an alien sign.
“At SETI we wish to take a look at as many frequency channels as we probably can as a result of we do not know what frequency ET can be broadcasting on and we wish to look for plenty of completely different sign sorts – is it AM or FM, what communication are they utilizing?” Dr Werthimer was quoted as saying.
Berkely SETI has round 100 GPUs processing information from large listening arrays that may detect even the faintest radio frequencies coming throughout from a farflung phenomenon within the universe.
GPU producers are additionally scrambling to cope with the quickly rising demand for graphics playing cards. Motherboard reports that GPU producers resembling Nvidia went as far as to recommend that distributors limit giant purchases of GPUs from particular person patrons to forestall cyrptocurrency miners from hoarding all of the graphic playing cards.
Nevertheless, some alien hunters take into account the GPU scarcity a minor setback. In line with a researcher on the Carl Sagan-founded SETI Institute, computer systems will doubtless quickly change into a lot sooner, boosting the seek for extraterrestrial life, Motherboard studies.
“I’ve guess everybody a cup of Starbucks that we would discover ET inside two dozen years,” Seth Shostak, fellow on the SETI Institute, instructed Motherboard. “On the subject of discovering the aliens, the extra laptop energy you could have, the faster you are able to do the search. It is like in search of buried treasure on a South Pacific island … in case you can exchange a teaspoon with a shovel, you would possibly discover it lots faster!”