The cryptocurrency craze is hindering scientists’ search for extraterrestrial life, a Berkeley researcher says. E.T.

can’t phone home (and vice-versa) without something called a graphics processing unit (GPU), a specialized circuit that accelerates the processing speed of electronic devices. Crypto-miners, gamers and alien hunters all require GPUs for their purposes, but the latter two groups claim there’s been a shortage since the bitcoin blitz.

“We’d like to use the latest GPUs … and we can’t get ’em,” Dan Werthimer, chief scientist at Berkeley Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti) Research Center, told the BBC on Wednesday.

Seth Shostak thinks scientists will find extraterrestrial life within the next twenty years. “That’s limiting our search for extraterrestrials,” he added.

SETI, a global program devoted to searching for signs of extraterrestrial civilization, listens to radio channels for traces of alien broadcasts. The task requires tons of processing power, with some of Berkeley SETI’s telescopes requiring as many as 100 GPUs. Read more from…

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