A common charge levied by gamers against cryptocurrency miners is that miners have been buying up virtually all graphics processing units (GPUs), common components in gaming computers. On that note, extraterrestrial researchers looking for alien life at Seti are now struggling to get the GPUs needed for their research.
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Dan Werthimer works for Seti — the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence initiative. Using advanced gear, Dr. Werthimer collaborates with colleagues from around the world to scrutinize the skies for life.
The only problem as of late? The GPUs that Dr. Werthimer and his team need for computations are scarcely available due to the explosive recent demand for the specialized chips in cryptocurrency mining.
“We’d like to use the latest GPUs,” Dr. Werthimer said. “And we can’t get ’em.”
That’s definitely a mitigating factor that’s become increasingly in entrenched over the past several weeks. Dr. Werthimer elaborated:
“That’s limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, ‘Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?’ […] This is a new problem, it’s only happened on orders we’ve been trying to make in the last couple of months.”
The Seti team is now coming up against the dynamic that many gamers have found themselves in lately: having the money and the drive to buy GPUs, but no one to the chips in the ongoing general shortage.
The researchers have been known to stick as many as 100 GPUs into a single listening array to maximize their ability to scrutinize faint radio frequencies.
“At Seti we want to look at as many frequency channels as we possibly can because we don’t know what frequency ET will be broadcasting on and we want to look for lots of different signal types – is it AM or FM, what communication are they using,” Dr. Werthimer said. “That takes a lot of computing power.”
But, since GPUs fly off the shelves just about anywhere they get stocked these days, the chips seem impossible to find. Per Dr. Werthimer:
“We’ve got the money, we’ve contacted the vendors, and they say, ‘we just don’t have them.'”
So, with Seti’s gear falling behind, it looks like alien life will remain a mystery yet.
What’s your take? Do you think cryptocurrency mining is a waste compared to what GPUs could be doing instead? Sound off in the comments below.
Images via YouTube, The Inquisitr