Finding E.T. or Mining Bitcoin, we'll have to choose ! :

The search for a possible extraterrestrial intelligent life is based to a large extent on the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project. But the frenzied search for cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin, could slow down, if not annihilate, these efforts. According to the BBC, radio astronomers who listen to sounds from space now face a problem with Bitcoin: they can no longer buy the computer equipment they need because of the mining craze for crypto-currencies.

Researchers from the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project (to which the well-known seti @ home project is attached) would like to increase their power, but unfortunately the very powerful computer equipment they need has become a rare commodity. The actors of the mining of cryptocurrency make explode the prices of the material necessary for their passion. At the expense of radio astronomers.

"We would like to use the latest GPUs (graphics cards) ... and we can not get them," says Dr. Dan Werthimer at the BBC. "It limits our search on extraterrestrials to try to answer the questions 'are we alone?' 'Is there anyone there?' "This problem is recent according to the scientists. It dates from a few months.

A price that triples in three months
Until then GPUs were mostly used by video game enthusiasts. But these devices can also be stacked by anyone interested in processing large amounts of data for energy-hungry applications, such as listening to extraterrestrial transmissions or extracting bitcoins, for example.

"At SETI, we want to look at as many frequency channels as possible, because we do not know what frequency AND will broadcast and we want to look for a lot of different types of signals - is it AM or FM, which channel of communication do they use ? " says Dr. Werthimer, chief scientist at the Berkeley SETI Research Center. "It takes a lot of computing power."

"We are increasing the power of our telescope, we got a grant from the National Science Foundation here in the US to do it," said Aaron Parsons, of the University of Berkeley. Problem, the calculation of the grant was made on the basis of the GPU price 3 months ago. And these prices so far have ... tripled.

"We will be able to deal with the situation, but it's out of our emergency budget," said Aaron Parsons. "It will end up costing about $ 32,000 more." He also said he was concerned that future work could even be halted if the GPU shortage worsened.