Astronomer Says Bitcoin Mining Is Stopping Us From Discovering Aliens
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You're probably sick of hearing about Bitcoin these days, but this one is actually quite interesting. After it's meteoric and bewildering rise to the end of last year, it seems as though the hype has worn off and it's sitting at £6,650 (US$9,305) at the time of writing, which, of course, isn't nothing but it's nowhere near its peak.
But that hasn't stopped people all around the world from continuing to mine for Bitcoin. If you haven't heard, the actual process of mining takes up an absolute shitload of computer power and, as a result, electricity.
A miner also has to have some very specific hardware, such as high-powered graphics processing units, to allow them to initiate the pretty complicated process of mining.
It just so happens that scientists who hunt the cosmos for alien lifeforms also use GPUs.
Berkeley University's Search For Extra-terrestrial Intelligence chief scientist Dr Dan Werthimer told the BBC: "We'd like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]...and we can't get 'em.
"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."
Their operations take up a lot of computing power as well, as they're using their technology to scan different frequency channels to see if there are any alien frequencies coming through loud and clear.
Shockingly, Bitcoin mining is now consuming more electricity than the output of 159 individual countries. Power Compare says if the process was a country itself, it would rank 61st in the world for consumption.
There are concerns Iceland could run out of electricity because it has become a sort-of hub for cryptocurrency mining servers.
Icelandic energy producer HS Orka spokesman Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson told the Washington Post: "There was a lot of talk about data centres in Iceland about five years ago, but it was a slow start.
"But six months ago, interest suddenly began to spike. And over the last three months, we have received about one call per day from foreign companies interested in setting up projects here."
The world's total cryptocurrency mining produces as much CO2 as one million trans-Atlantic flights, according to the Guardian. That's a ridiculous amount of pollution for people mining a product that is fast declining in price and popularity.
Imagine if ET is yelling at us on every frequency known to man but we're too busy mining Bitcoin?