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Crypto-currency craze 'hinders search for alien life'

Crypto-currency craze 'hinders search for alien life'

Science
Scientists listening out for broadcasts by extra-terrestrials are struggling to get the computer hardware they need, thanks to the crypto-currency mining craze, a radio-astronomer has said.Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researchers want to expand operations at two observatories.However, they have found that key computer chips are in short supply."We'd like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]... and we can't get 'em," said Dan Werthimer.Demand for GPUs has soared recently thanks to crypto-currency mining."That's limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, 'Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?'," Dr Werthimer told the BBC."This is a new problem, it's only happened on orders we've been trying to make in the last couple of mon...
Quantum computers 'one step closer'

Quantum computers 'one step closer'

Science
Quantum computing has taken a step forward with the development of a programmable quantum processor made with silicon.The team used microwave energy to align two electron particles suspended in silicon, then used them to perform a set of test calculations.By using silicon, the scientists hope that quantum computers will be more easy to control and manufacture. The research was published in the journal Nature.The old adage of Schrödinger's Cat is often used to frame a basic concept of quantum theory. We use it to explain the peculiar, but important, concept of superposition; where something can exist in multiple states at once.For Schrodinger's feline friend - the simultaneous states were dead and alive.Superposition is what makes quantum computing so potentially powerful.Standard computer
Amazon fish challenges mutation idea

Amazon fish challenges mutation idea

Science
Evolutionary theory suggests that species favouring asexual reproduction will rapidly become extinct, as their genomes accumulate deadly mutations over time.But a study on an Amazon fish has cast doubt on the rapidity of this decline. Despite thousands of years of asexual reproduction, the genomes of the Amazon molly fish are remarkably stable and the species has survived. Details of the work have been published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.There are two fundamental ways in which new generations of life come to being - sexual and asexual reproduction.Sexual reproduction relies on special reproductive male and female sex cells, the eggs and sperm, joining together during the process of fertilisation.Each sex cell contains half the number of chromosomes of normal parent cells, then follow...
Genes remain active after death

Genes remain active after death

Science
Cells continue to function even after an individual dies.That's according to a scientific study published in Nature Communications.Analysing post-mortem samples, an international team of scientists showed that some genes became more active after death.As well as providing an important dataset for other scientists, they also hope that this can be developed into a forensic tool.Inside the cells of our bodies, life plays out under the powerful influence of our genes; their outputs controlled by a range of internal and external triggers.Understanding gene activity provides a perfect insight into what an individual cell, tissue or organ is doing, in health and in disease.Genes are locked away in the DNA present in our cells and when these are switched on, a tell-tale molecule called an RNA tran...
UK team set for giant Antarctic iceberg expedition

UK team set for giant Antarctic iceberg expedition

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceScientists will set out in the next week to study an Antarctic realm that has been hidden for thousands of years.A British Antarctic Survey-led team will explore the seabed ecosystem exposed when a giant iceberg broke away from the Antarctic Peninsula in 2017. The organisation has also released the first video of the berg, which covers almost 6,000 sq km.Its true scale begins to emerge in a shot filmed from an aircraft flown along its edge. Urgent missionAn international team will spend three weeks, from February to March, on board the research ship RRS James Clark Ross, navigating ice-infested waters to reach the remote Larsen C ice shelf from which the berg calved.British Antarctic Survey marine biologist Dr Katrin Linse, who is leading the mi...