Are cryptocurrency traders hindering our search for ET?

We don’t know how our first contact will be with an alien race. Will they be peaceful like the Vulcans of Star Trek? Will they be here to kill us and strip our planet of resources like in Independence Day? Will they just want a good fight like the Klingons of Star Trek or be here to assimilate us like the Borg? Could they be like Lrrr of Omicron Persei 8 of Futurama? We don’t know and with our current state of things we may not know until they arrive here.

How exacactly are they doing this

It seems that SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Life) are looking to expand operations at locations in West Virginia and Australia but are unable to acquire the hardware that is necessary to do so. Their equipment needs the latest graphic processing units or GPUs to work and these are proving to be difficult to acquire. Why? Because cryptocurrency miners are buying them up to work with their mining rigs.

To mine cryptocurrency computers need to be connected to a global network and they need to have sufficient processing power to solve difficult problems. As a reward for solving those problems the miners are paid with a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Altcoin or one of the hundreds of others that exist.

Why do they use GPUs

GPUs are for more than just gaming. They are able to process large amounts of data with some applications making them more in demand than ever. Security experts use them to brute force crack passwords and that ability to process large amounts of information has become useful for not only SETI but also cryptocurrency miners. For SETI, analyzing the large amounts of data that is received from the cosmos requires a large amount of processing power and GPUs offer the latest in technology to handle this. Numerous frequency channels have to be scanned and analyzed since we don’t know what frequency ET will come calling and that all takes processing power and lots of it. Some of the telescopes use 100 or more GPUs.

How are we searching for ET?

Radio signals from the cosmos are picked up with receivers either in large networks of them or with a large one like the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Most of the signals picked up are natural like from collapsed stars or from pulsars but some of these radio waves are believed to come from the birth of the universe as we know it. Even from natural sounds we can learn a lot. The goal though is to find evidence of another civilization from radio traffic. Here on Earth every radio and TV program that has ever been transmitted is flying through the cosmos. One day an alien civilization may sit down and enjoy some of our favorite TV shows and their children may even want to visit Earth. Scientists believe that this can work in reverse but as of yet no clear signal has been picked up from ET though scientists thought that they had a signal in 1977.

We have often wondered if we are alone in the universe. Our fascination with finding out dates back to 1896 when Nikola Tesla believed that his wireless devices could be used to contact life that was believed to exist on Mars and he even believed that he found that proof in 1899. He may have actually been picking up experiments from Guglielmo Marconi who also had a fascination with contacting life on Mars using radio waves. In 1924 when Mars entered into opposition with Earth a National Radio Silence Day went infor effect for three days when all radios in the US would go silent for five minutes at the top of every hour so that the US Naval Observatory could listen for extraterrestrial broadcasts. Eventually the idea expanded away from Mars and began to include the entire cosmos. Even the Soviet Union joined in and a network of radio telescopes all over the globe began to listen to the cosmos hoping to hear a welcoming signal from an alien species. In 1984 the project was given the name SETI.

Gamers are not happy either

SETI has the money to upgrade their network but the chips are simply not available and when they are they are not available in the quantities needed. Gamers as well are finding chips in short supply prompting major manufacturers like Nvidia to step up production but it will take time to catch up. Those GPUs that are available are skyrocketing in price, some more than doubling in price in a matter of weeks. To make cryptocurrency mining profitable it requires multiple GPUs and with the cryptocurrency craze going on around the globe the people who are into that are willing to pay. It is simple supply and demand and cryptocurrency miners have the demand.

The question of whether or not we are alone in this universe is one of the great questions of mankind. While it is doubtful that we are alone the universe is vast and finding an alien civilization is like finding a needle in a haystack. That does not mean that we should not look and as technology improves the odds will improve. That is as long as the technology is available to be implemented.

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