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Cryptocurrency mining is hampering the search for alien life

From Engadget - February 14, 2018

Search For Extraterrestrial Life (SETI) researchers want to build out their operations at two facilities, BBC reported, but they ca not find GPUs to buy.

"We'd like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]... and we ca not get 'em," SETI chief scientist Dan Werthimer told the BBC. "This is a new problem, it's only happened on orders we have been trying to make in the last couple of months."

Crudely speaking, cryptocurrency miners harness the great processing power of GPUs to work out complex math problems that, when solved, grant coin portions as a payday. SETI researchers need the high-performing processors to scan many communications frequencies at once to ensure they do not miss out on an extraterrestrial's potential call; Berkeley SETI alone has 100 GPUs.

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