The surge in current cryptocurrency mining has pushed demand for high-end graphics cards - particularly AMD graphics cards - so high that it's hindering scientists from the task of looking for signs of alien life.
As the GPUs become increasingly hard to buy - and eye-wateringly expensive if they are available - it appears that people looking to mine for cryptocurrencies, such as Monero, are buying up graphics cards in large quantities straight from the factory.
And while companies such as Nvidia are trying to help make it easier for normal customers to buy such cards, they are ridiculously expensive when they do come back in stock.
This is preventing progression in the search for alien life, astronomers have claimed.
[Crypto-currency mining] is limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, 'Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?'
According to researchers at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), attempts to expand operations at two observatories have been hindered because scientists are unable to source the GPUs the need to perform the complex calculations these actions are in short supply.
"We'd like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]... and we can't get 'em," radio-astronomer Dan Werthimer, who is also the chief scientist at the Berkeley SETI Research Center, told the BBC.
"[Crypto-currency mining] is limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, 'Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?'," he added. "This is a new problem, it's only happened on orders we've been trying to make in the last couple of months."
Mining a digital currency like Monero involves connecting computers to a global network and using them to solve complex mathematical algorythms, which forms the process of validating transactions made by people who use the currency.
The number of people doing this has rocketed in recent years, mainly due to the fact there is a reward for this work; the miners receive a small cryptocurrency payment for their mining efforts, making it profitable.
As the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies took off at the tail end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, so did GPU - and, by extension, the price of graphics cards.
When AMD launched its first Vega 56 cards at the end of July last year, they had recommended retail prices starting around £399. Today, the cheapest Vega 56 is £956.99 on Ebuyer, and graphics cards bearing the more powerful Vega 64 GPU aren't available.
Further down the food chain, mid-range graphics cards bearing AMD RX 580 GPUs have increased from between £229-£350 in November, to as much as £529.98.
They had originally gone on the market just under a year ago from £184.99 for the four gigabyte memory version and from £219.99 for the 8GB version.
Nvidia graphics cards, meanwhile, have been less affected by the cryptocurrency mining craze, but have still spiked in price.
Graphics cards with less memory - 2GB or less - have largely been left on the shelves by cryptocurrency miners, but they're much less use to both gamers and astronomers alike.
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