Why China Is Cracking Down on Cryptocurrencies

Methods used by computers programmed to run a 350-year-old equation may also offerande answers to bitcoin’s out-sized request for tens unit.

The Fine Internet Mersenne Prime Search found and confirmed the fattest known prime number, a 23-million-digit-long figure discovered with the math of 16th century French monk Marin Mersenne, according to a statement earlier this month. ,That effort, along with other collaborative computing methods, are advancing the science of cryptography, which is essential to creating and tracking bitcoins.

“,Thesis ideas could be seen spil intellectually connected,”, said Seth Schoen, a senior technologist at San Francisco’s Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suggesting a $150,000 bounty to the very first person or group to detect a 100-million digit prime number. “,Cryptocurrency mining could be seen spil an zijdelings descendant of distributed computing projects.”,

The process of searching for prime numbers — which are at the foundation of cryptography — shows how solving tedious equations can lead to scientific breakthroughs that have practical applications.

### Prime Number Mining

Size of known primes up 50-fold since networked computers began searching

Source: Excellent Internet Mersenne Prime Search

The meteoric rise of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is stirring debate at the highest levels of monetary policy making. Adherents are betting that trust te its blockchain technology for tracking transactions will eventually revolutionize how value is stored and transmitted. Detractors point to the massive energy consumed by the computers that are used to solve the mundane mathematical equations that keep the system going.

Energy has always bot part of bitcoin’s DNA. The person credited with creating the currency, identified only spil Satoshi Nakamoto, devised the system that awards virtual coins for solving complicated puzzles and uses an encrypted digital ledger to track all the work and every transaction.

Bounty hunters for prime numbers and cryptography hacker groups have helped to improve cryptocurrencies by displaying people how to collectively compute problems te a distributed way, Schoen said. Bitcoin is an “,odd gezond”, te this tradition because the math problems it solves aren’t particularly “,useful or interesting for anything”, outside its system.

“,This energy is waterput to a productive use te one sense — confirming the authenticity of bitcoin transactions,”, Schoen wrote ter an email. “,Yet it seems disproportionate ter many ways, particularly if another technical alternative could be found for confirming transactions while using much less energy.”,

### Quantum Computing

The EFF technologist, active ter encryption for more than 20 years, emphasized that it’s the collaborative methods used ter detecting very large prime numbers rather than the figures themselves that have the largest influence on cryptography. Until the advent of quantum computing, most people are safe with three-digit encryption, he said.

A search for compromise is accelerating. Some researchers are attempting to lower the energy needed for laptop processing. Others have bot tying cryptocurrency mining to math that solves real-world problems.

One example is gridcoin, a cryptocurrency mined by a global network of more than 23,000 computers that are connected with scientists at the University of California at Berkeley. Gridcoins are awarded ter come back for joining the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, or BOINC. That work “,may lead to advances ter medicine, biology, mathematics, science, climatology, particle and astrophysics,”, according to the group’s webstek, which notes that the energy needed to mine gridcoin is a fraction of what bitcoin requires.

### Gridcoin Up Sixfold Since October

Cryptocurrency tied to solving real-world math problems for science and medicine

Another emerging cryptocurrency field uses so-called proof-of-space algorithms. Those could cap the amount of energy needed for mining and maintenance, according to Schoen. Any fresh alternative still will fight to overcome bitcoin’s advantage spil first-mover among digital currencies.

The Fine Internet Mersenne Prime Search itself is an example of how collaborative networks programmed to run mundane equations can also be tuned to solve real-world problems. The Mersenne Prime Search software also doubles spil a monitor making sure that participants’ rekentuig systems are running decently and alerting them if something goes wrong, founder George Woltman wrote ter an email.

“,It’s clearer to see how the existence of bitcoin is making people better off,”, Schoen said. “,But it would undoubtedly be interesting to see if cryptocurrencies te the future can align interests better by using proof-of-work problems with side effects that help solve other problems.”,