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A Trip Through The Bitcoin Mines

Tyler Durden's picture


Once upon a time, money - in the form of precious metals - used to be literally dug out of the earth. Limitations on the amount that could be mined, and on how much growth could be borrowed from the future (all debt is, is future consumption denied), is why eventually the world's central bankers moved from money backed by precious metals, to "money" backed by "faith and credit", in the process diluting both. It was the unprecedented explosion in credit money creation that resulted once money could be "printed" out of thin air that nearly destroyed the western financial system. Which brings us to Bitcoin, where currency "mining" takes place not in the earth's crust, or in the basement of the Federal Reserve, but inside supercomputers.

It is these supercomputers, that are the laborers of the virtual mines where Bitcoins are unearthed, that the NYT focuses on in a recent expose:

Bitcoins are invisible money, backed by no government, useful only as a speculative investment or online currency, but creating them commands a surprisingly hefty real-world infrastructure.


Instead of swinging pickaxes, these custom-built machines, which are running an open-source Bitcoin program, perform complex algorithms 24 hours a day. If they come up with the right answers before competitors around the world do, they win a block of 25 new Bitcoins from the virtual currency’s decentralized network. The network is programmed to release 21 million coins eventually. A little more than half are already out in the world, but because the system will release Bitcoins at a progressively slower rate, the work of mining could take more than 100 years.

As the following chart shows, in addition to the surge in the price of Bitcoin, another explosion witnessed recently is in the processing power of the Bitcoin network: from non-existent a couple of years ago, the "mining" power dedicated to hashing, or the calculations used to extract new Bitcoins, has risen to nearly 10 quadrillion per second!

So what do these supercomputer-populated mines look like? Below we look at two examples of just that.

* * *

First, we look at Hong Kong, where one of the largest Bitcoin mines in the world is located.

In an industrial backwater near Hong Kong's massive port, one of Asia's largest Bitcoin mines is quietly turning raw computing power into digital currency.

Located about eight miles from the city's finance hub, the entire facility is no larger than a two-bedroom apartment. Aside from a small bathroom, the mine offers no creature comforts.

It is dominated by vertical racks that house hundreds of ASIC chips. Shorthand for application-specific integrated circuits, these chips are custom-built to mine bitcoins.

These racks house hundreds of ASIC chips used to mine bitcoins.

Chinese investors have been enthusiastic early adopters, a trend amplified by a lack of more traditional investment vehicles in the country

The Kwai Chung mining facility is extremely quiet -- except for the whirr of computers

Industrial bitcoin mines devote their massive amounts of computing power to working on the algorithm, and are rewarded with an equivalent share of bitcoins. Currently, a winner is rewarded with 25 bitcoins roughly every 10 minutes.

A closer look at the towers. Most of the facility is devoted to mining for an investor group in China.

Miners are lured to Hong Kong because of its proximity to chipmakers in China and the city's permissive regulatory environment.

A bubbling liquid produced by 3M cools the ASIC chips.

This mine was purpose-built by Allied Control for clients based in China.

Kar-Wing Lau, Allied Control's vice president of operations, said the mine is cheaper to run and more efficient than many others because it uses a technology called immersion cooling.

Heat sinks and fans are typically used to disperse the heat generated by massed ranks of computer chips, but this Hong Kong mine is liquid-cooled using a product developed by 3M.

The processors used in the mine were build specifically for mining. They have no other function. "These ASIC chips, they can mine bitcoins and do nothing else," Lau said. "Given the pace of advancement, we need them to be constantly upgraded."

These radiators, housed on a balcony outside the mine, help disperse heat produced by the chips.

Immersion cooling allows Allied Control to leave less space between the chips, which saves money that would otherwise be spent on rent.

The technology also cuts down on electricity use -- one of the other major costs associated with Bitcoin mining. Lau wouldn't reveal how much it cost to build the mine, but he said that electricity bills for a fully-operational mine of this size would typically exceed $50,000 per month.

"The real question from a business perspective is how efficiently you can run your mining operation," Lau said.


The inside of the racks used to house the mining chips.

Cooling, however, is only one of the key factors when determining Bitcoin "mine" placement. Another key one: access to cheap electricity, because those massive servers sure soak up a lot of electricity: electricity, whose costs can quickly add up once a parallel processing cluster gets big enough.

* * *

Which brings us to Bitcoin mega-mine #2 in Iceland.

It is here that the NYT goes searching for digital excavators used to procure the digital currency.

On the flat lava plain of Reykjanesbaer, Iceland, near the Arctic Circle, you can find the mines of Bitcoin.


To get there, you pass through a fortified gate and enter a featureless yellow building. After checking in with a guard behind bulletproof glass, you face four more security checkpoints, including a so-called man trap that allows passage only after the door behind you has shut. This brings you to the center of the operation, a fluorescent-lit room with more than 100 whirring silver computers, each in a locked cabinet and each cooled by blasts of Arctic air shot up from vents in the floor.


“What we have here are money-printing machines,” said Emmanuel Abiodun, 31, founder of the company that built the Iceland installation, shouting above the din of the computers. “We cannot risk that anyone will get to them.”


Mr. Abiodun is one of a number of entrepreneurs who have rushed, gold-fever style, into large-scale Bitcoin mining operations in just the last few months. All of these people are making enormous bets that Bitcoin will not collapse, as it has threatened to do several times.

Iceland's low electric bill and its effective infrastructure, may be a reason why the one country that rebelled against the banker syndicate and jailed some of its bankers, may become the place where the bulk of Bitcoin mining takes place:

The computers that do the work eat up so much energy that electricity costs can be the deciding factor in profitability. There are Bitcoin mining installations in Hong Kong and Washington State, among other places, but Mr. Abiodun chose Iceland, where geothermal and hydroelectric energy are plentiful and cheap. And the arctic air is free and piped in to cool the machines, which often overheat when they are pushed to the outer limits of their computing capacity.


The operation can baffle even those entrusted with its care. Helgi Helgason, a burly, bald Icelandic man who oversees the data center that houses the machines, said that when he first heard that a Bitcoin mining operation was moving in he expected something very different. “I thought we’d bring in machines and put bags behind them and the coins would fall into them,” said Mr. Helgason, with a laugh.

No coins, but the cash miners get in exchange for BTC, especially if each Bitcoin continues to trade close to $1000, the mining can be quite lucrative. The flipside, however, is that the business is just as if not more capital intensive than running a gold mine for the same profit.

Until just a few months ago, most Bitcoin mining was done on the home computers of digital-money fanatics. But as the value of a single Bitcoin skyrocketed over the last few months, the competition for new coins set off a race that quickly turned mining into an industrial enterprise.


“Even if you had hardware earlier this year, that is becoming obsolete,” said Greg Schvey, a co-founder of Genesis Block, a virtual-currency research firm. “You are talking about order-of-magnitude jumps.”


The work the computers do is akin to guessing at a lottery number. The faster the computers run, the better chance of guessing that right number and winning valuable coins. So mining entrepreneurs are buying chips and computers designed specifically — and only — for this work. The machines in Iceland are worth about $20,000 each on the open market.



In February, Mr. Abiodun used the investors’ money to buy machines from a start-up dedicated solely to manufacturing specialized mining computers. The competition for those computers is so intense that he had to pay for them and wait for delivery.


When the delays became lengthy, however, he went on eBay and paid $130,000 for two high-powered machines, which he set up in June in a data center in Kansas City, Kan.


This was the beginning of Mr. Abiodun’s company, Cloud Hashing, which rents out computing power to people who want to mine without buying computers themselves. The term hashing refers to the repetitive code guessing that miners do. 


Today, all of the machines dedicated to mining Bitcoin have a computing power about 4,500 times the capacity of the United States government’s mightiest supercomputer, the IBM Sequoia, according to calculations done by Michael B. Taylor, a professor at the University of California, San Diego. The computing capacity of the Bitcoin network has grown by around 30,000 percent since the beginning of the year.

What is the upside of mining?

At the end of each day, the spoils are divided up and sent to Cloud Hashing’s customers. Last Wednesday, for example, the entire operation unlocked 225 Bitcoins, valued at around $160,000 at recent prices. Cloud Hashing keeps about 20 percent of the capacity for its own mining.

To be sure, like any industry in its infancy, there are numerous glitches, and mining for Bitcoins is no different:

Some Cloud Hashing customers have also complained on Internet forums that it can be hard to get a response from the company when something goes wrong. But this has not stopped new contracts from pouring in. Cloud Hashing now has 4,500 customers, up from 1,000 in September.


Mr. Abiodun acknowledges that the company has not been prepared to deal with its rapid growth. He said he had used $4 million raised from two angel investors to add customer service representatives to offices in Austin, Tex., and London. Cloud Hashing is now preparing to open a mining facility in a data center near Dallas, which will hold more than $3 million worth of new machines being produced by CoinTerra, a Texas start-up run by a former Samsung chip designer.


The higher energy costs — and required air-conditioning — in Texas are worth it for Mr. Abiodun. He wants his operation to be widely distributed in case of power shortages or regulatory issues in one location. But he is also expanding his Icelandic operation, shipping in about 66 machines that have been running for the last few months near their manufacturer in Ukraine.


Mr. Abiodun said that by February, he hopes to have about 15 percent of the entire computing power of the Bitcoin network, significantly more than any other operation.

Hopefully Bitcoin will still be around by then.

* * *

The future of Bitcoin mining is uncertain. There are a fixed number of bitcoins available -- and more than half have already been extracted. Kar-Wing Lau of the Hong Kong-based Allied Control, compared the explosion of professional mining operations to an arms race. For now, it appears to be a profitable endeavor. Lau said that Allied Control is currently exploring other mining platforms, including a mine built in a shipping container -- something that could prove useful if regulators crack down on the currency.


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Wed, 12/25/2013 - 17:38 | 4275595 Dear Infinity
Dear Infinity's picture

Much like the gold rush, the ones making all the profit are the shovel sellers.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 17:38 | 4275600 Motorhead
Motorhead's picture

Free the Silver Bears, bitchez!

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:00 | 4275620 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

The Silver Bears (various?) series are produced independently, no?  I sure enjoyed them...

But, this BTC mining article was extremely intersting, thanks Tylers for posting it.  It will be a wonderful journey watching and participating in BTC.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:39 | 4275669 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

Whichever god that made me or didn't, hear my humble cry and rid this planet of the plague that is virtual currency.


Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:41 | 4275672 CH1
CH1's picture

Why do you care if you don't use it?

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:58 | 4275689 Stackers
Stackers's picture

All that pictured hardware is oboslete paper weights within 6 to 9 months and uneconomical to operate in 4 months. The problem is not the cost of the hardware, but the rate at which the hardware becomes obsolete due to difficulty increases in the code. If you can go as big as the operations pictured and rotate into (and have first access to) the latest and fastest processors every 6 months then it can be profitable

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:14 | 4275717 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

True enough.

Some entrepreneurs will succeed, some will fail.


Not all gold miners struck gold. But I'm sure glad they tried. Because I like gold as money.


You don't have to mine bitcoin. But you can benefit from their use as money. Same with gold.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:18 | 4275721 fonestar
fonestar's picture


Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:46 | 4275760 wee-weed up
wee-weed up's picture


Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:39 | 4275832 SafelyGraze
SafelyGraze's picture

bitcoins have been generated for thousands of years

the romans called it coinus bittus

the greeks awarded olympic medals with koinous wallets engraved on them

crazy stuff

these things really *have* stood the test of time

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:10 | 4275876 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

Exhorcism also stood the test of time, until we discovered antibiotics.


Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:58 | 4276000 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

I got bored with this subject long ago. I made one articulate post. Here:

Log in or you might not see it because it is on page X.



Thu, 12/26/2013 - 00:15 | 4276097 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Great link with a great analogy re quantum vs regular computers.  Link workz, fishez!


Um, but how much was a Bitcoin worth last April...?  ;)

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 01:29 | 4276226 Dane Bramage
Dane Bramage's picture

Hey, it's Christmas!  Can't decorate your tree with BitCoin!  I'm with Yukon Cornelius & Sam the Snowman ~>

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 05:53 | 4276383 malikai
malikai's picture

Bubble, Ponzi, etc, etc. Yawn.

Here we are again at the doorstep of yet another broken downtrend. This time from a much higher low and in a much shorter timeframe.

Just can't fix stupid.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 08:11 | 4276437 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture



Jessie Livermore is rolling over in his grave.



You handed your money over....and didn't even get a tulip for it?


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:14 | 4276487 TeamDepends
TeamDepends's picture

They got a virtual tulip.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:41 | 4276523 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture





If it was virtual.....I hope they received a plethora of them.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 11:10 | 4276673 fonestar
fonestar's picture

Only idiots could compare a flower with a globally distributed, decentralized computer network.  And Bitcoin is nowhere near a mania stage.  Even my tech savvy friends are just watching this from the sidelines somewhat puzzled.  Few people have heard of Bitcoin in 2013 and very very few people both understand it and see the value in it.

I am predicting 2014 will be yet another stellar year for Bitcoin.  Rarely in history have we seen something this far ahead of its competitors released into the wild.



Thu, 12/26/2013 - 11:23 | 4276702 BaBaBouy
BaBaBouy's picture

You GUYS Can Keep Fucking With BitCoinz And See
Where This Virtual WIFI Fluff Takes You...
AND I'll Happily Stick With The HARD AU And AG ...

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 12:17 | 4276815 outamyeffinway
outamyeffinway's picture

And what, you'll wait for them to be money again? I hope you're very young and patient.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 03:22 | 4276302 Freewheelin Franklin
Freewheelin Franklin's picture


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 10:40 | 4276607 TeamDepends
TeamDepends's picture

...have gone vertical, my shiney friend.  Can we have a hallelujah  in the house!!!!  The shorts are getting squeezed.  What kind of chump bets against a winner?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 13:04 | 4276909 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

From $1200-$1215???

If you're on team depends then I guess 10 steps is an achievement worth exclaiming about.


I can't wait for the day gold goes vertical.  AAAAAnnnnnyyyy day now.


Til then another scarce money we have it bitcoin. Stop bashing and diversify your scarce resources.

No one here is telling you to sell all  your gold to buy farmland. But it's not a bad idea to have some right?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 13:49 | 4277037 malikai
malikai's picture

I looked at today's gold.

Then I looked at last month's gold.

Then I just shook my head..

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 02:56 | 4276165 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

So, in EFFECT (if not by design/intention), this amounts to the free market subsidizing (paying for) the HW and Infrastructure Development of super-computer networks with a very specialized ability...

Since most of the mining is GPU-intensive, and given that graphics cards are IMAGE PROCESSING devices, how long will it be before the OTHER shoe drops... AI that can 'recognize' the way a human can.

Put another way... "SKYNET thanks you", as do its owners.  For doing (a) voluntarily and (b) at your expense, that which they could otherwise not achieve without tremendous cost, complexity and resistance.  If this is indeed the "big picture", they must be ROTF LTheirAO!

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 06:00 | 4276386 malikai
malikai's picture

WTF are you talking about?

Why am I even bothering to ask? Its obvious you have no fucking clue what you're talking about.

Protip: GPU != ASIC. "Skynet" doesn't fucking exist.

Stop using Hollowwood bullshit to paint pictures of the future. At least in the Terminator movies, they got some details sort of right. You can't even do that.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 12:18 | 4276816 outamyeffinway
outamyeffinway's picture

So many crazies on ZH anymore.....ridiculous.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 13:52 | 4277045 XitSam
XitSam's picture

Skynet doesn't exist .... yet.

Sat, 12/28/2013 - 18:16 | 4282315 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

I wish I had revisited my post sooner, so I could have responded to YOUR nonsense in time.

No need to get abusive & hostile (unless that's your tool of last resort), but you sir clearly know nothing about Image Processing, or you'd know that graphics cards do NOTHING BUT Image Processing.  Unlike you, I have actually done IP the hard way:  using Matrices.  What have you done?  Played with Photoshop?

And clearly you lack a sense of humor, irony or sarcasm to grasp my elementary reference to Skynet.  Any child knows that it does not exist.  You'd think that you could figure out that I used it as a metaphor?  I.e., as a metaphor for Full Spectrum Dominance by TPTB.

p.s. Are you the 'Malikai' who posted this YT video?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:22 | 4276499 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture

How far this ponzi can go, depends upon NSA,

The hash function that bitcoin relies on—called SHA-256, and developed by the US National Security Agency—always produces a string that is 64 characters long. For example:




You could run your name through that hash function, or the entire King James Bible. In either case, you’ll get 64 characters out the other end. And, for a given input, you’ll always get the same output.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:31 | 4276511 malikai
malikai's picture

Wow. Did you come up with that one all on your own?

I mean, you figured it out didn't you? It's an NSA ponzi because each hash string is 256bits.

Time for me to get out now while I still can!!

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:09 | 4275703 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

I care because I don't want kids to grow up thinking that imaginary shit like bitcoin is real, and I certainly don't want kids pursuing the mining of bitcoins because I cannot think of a greater waste of the boon that is cheap electricity. See HonestAnn's post about space aliens down below.

If it's all for the children, why are we raising them to embrace/pursue/compete for all kinds of fucked up ideals, when we know better?

I met one of my friends' new boyfriend yetserday and in the course of conversation told him never to be a middleman in his life, to always do something real and useful. He completely agreed and thanked me for reminding him.


Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:48 | 4275761 wee-weed up
wee-weed up's picture

Bitcoin cheerleaders still believe in Santy Claus!

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:59 | 4275767 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

And infallible math apparently too.

Maybe the math fairy will come visit me tonight if i put a bitcoin under my pillow.   /sarc

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 01:48 | 4276243 Steaming_Wookie_Doo
Steaming_Wookie_Doo's picture

OK, someone can correct me on this if my math is wrong.

21mil total bitcoins. 25 vended every 10 min, so that'd be 3600 coins/day (1440 mins/day divided by vending every 10 min times 25 bitcoins). At that rate it'd take 15.98 yrs to shell out all 21mil bitcoins (not sure when they officially started). Now we have a big ramp up in the computing power crunching the math problems required to solve for your bitcoin prize, so your chances of being one of the 144 "winners" per day grows ever smaller. I can't see how investing in this much hardware will actually pay off unless the "price" of bitcoins keeps hitting new, exponential nosebleed heights.

Some other questions from the NYT article which I think are valid:

"Open source notwithstanding, who gets to set the rules? Why the arbitrary number of 21 million bitcoins and no more? Who is there to verify there really is 21 million, and no more? What would happen to all these mining operations, with all the awesome computing powers, and there is no more mining to do, once the ceiling is reached? Who is to say if the upper reach of 21 million is to be raised...or not? Who designs or controls these supposedly complex mathematical problems for these miners to solve? Why wouldn't the designers simply submit the solution and claim the bitcoins, if only just for greed?"

I'm stuck on the undisclosed significance of the math problems that all this machinery is supposed to solve. It seems a really weird and arbitrary thing to do to put these coins into "circulation". This is either some diversion for a ponzi scheme, or we're being secretly used to crunch numbers (a la the old SETI signal processing in the late 90's) for some secret space project...

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 02:31 | 4276262 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

Aye, the miners' investments seem to indicate they believe the price will go much higher. *wink wink*

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 08:23 | 4276441 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture



Aye, the miners' investments seem to indicate they believe the price will go much higher.


Miners: A Story Of What Can, And Will, Go Wrong With "Miners" In Ten Pictures


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 02:36 | 4276276 Matt
Matt's picture

Mining was supposed to be the less exciting way to gradually make money over time. The hardware is going to hit limits soon, since the foundries don't go below 14nm even experimentally yet, so within a couple generations there will probably be a plateau. 

While I do not know the reasons behind the specific values selected, I have looked at it and compared all of the knock-off alternate coins that are just bitcoin but with more or less coins and faster processing times, and I can see that a lot of thought went into selecting the specific values chosen.

Anyone who wants to spend the time can read the source code and verify whatever they want.

The reward halves every ~4 years, so it will take longer than any of us will live before the reward disappears completely. The mining pool that finds the block also gets any transaction fees in it; the goal is that eventually the transaction fees will surpass the block reward and eventually be the only source of income.

The designers would not tamper with the system, because a loss of faith would render all the coins worthless, unless they were vindictive or insane.

The purpose of the math problems is to prevent counterfeiting and verify valid transactions. 

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 03:07 | 4276292 Rock On Roger
Rock On Roger's picture

As Above, So Below




Stack On


Honestann will understand.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:02 | 4276463 malikai
malikai's picture

Truly an enlightened one. Do you share the same couch with Skateboarder?

I can't wait to see the 'best performing assets of 2013' post.

I look forward to yalls drivel on the 31st.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 07:32 | 4276421 greenbear
greenbear's picture

While most of these questions and concerns are valid,  they have all been answered and refuted YEARS AGO!  Just think, if you would have bothered to do the research at that time, you could have spent a thousand dollars of risk capital on Bitcoin,  which at today's prices is worth roughly 7 million dollars.  Being lazy and stupid can be quite expensive no?

The Original Bitcoin White Paper by Satoshi Nakamoto

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 12:44 | 4276871 outamyeffinway
outamyeffinway's picture

That's why so many ZH'ers are mad. Not only did they miss the boat but the boat is far along in its voyage.

An entire industry EXISTS and yet people are waiting for the boat to sink when the passengers have already reached other shores. Meanwhile they are waiting for their gold to "go to the moon" as it (doesn't) becomes money again. And then they call other people stupid, crazy, whatever.

Arguing for something that doesn't exist and arguing against something that does....


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 07:55 | 4276426 i-dog
i-dog's picture

Here's something that doesn't add up with your math: So far - with around 13 million 'coins' having been minted since Jan 2009 - the coins have been minted at an average rate of 7,000/day = a new block having been mined every 5 minutes since inception.

That reduces the total mining period to just 8 years - ie. only 3 more years remaining! (assuming that increasing mining 'degree of difficulty' is offset by hardware advances ... with a 4x speed increase expected over that period under Moore's Law).

I also wonder just how many 'amateurs' have been scoring coins with their laptop GPUs when they're competing against those 'big rigs' in each 10-minute, errr, 5-minute window.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:15 | 4276471 malikai
malikai's picture

I think you forgot to apply exponential decay to the block reward.

It halves every 4 years.

Please try to do the actual research yourself.

In answer to your open-ended thought: Between 2009-2010, many, many blocks were found by amateurs on their laptops just playing around. Today, you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery - unless you accept your small hashing power and join a pool, where you'll get your share (minus fees) of the reward.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 10:38 | 4276601 i-dog
i-dog's picture

Thanks for the correction. Much clearer now (though I still have no interest in having my 'wallet' included in any digital block chain that is monitored by the globalist politburo).

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:10 | 4276474 Drifter
Drifter's picture

If the 21 million limit ever increased, bitcoin value would crash, it would be the end of bitcoin.

Limited supply is bitcoin's most important "value" characteristic, as it is with any currency.

Of course there is no real limit. Any number of "crypto-currencies" can be created "out of thin air".

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 13:59 | 4277060 XitSam
XitSam's picture

Miners are creating networks built with other peoples' hardware and other peoples' electricity bill.

What I want to know is why Bitcoin hates the environment to waste so much electricity?

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:12 | 4275786 Blano
Blano's picture

Given the complexity and machinery required for mining after reading this article, I doubt you have to worry about many kids OD'ing on virtual currencies.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:04 | 4276465 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture

New generation of kids will simply stay away from virtual currencies because math has something to do with it and they cannot sniff it.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 12:46 | 4276879 outamyeffinway
outamyeffinway's picture

So that's <5% of the world's population..... Most young people I know today love the idea of virtual currency. They know gold is very expensive and they know that gold and silver are manipulated by governments and bullion banks and that the gov can take it anytime they want.

But you were joking right?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 14:51 | 4277215 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture


Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:49 | 4275846 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

I like trading bitcoins and have been making $ on the swings.  But it's not Gold and never will be.  Bitcoin only has the virtual characteristics of Physical gold.  Bitcoin is a representation of why a physically limited element like Gold maintains it's worth.  Like Gold, it's an affront to fractional reserve banking and currency dilution by debt creation.  Bitcoin lacks one key characteristic of Gold, which is it's ability to survive untarnished and untainted through time without the need or support of an external system.  Whether political, economic, technical or otherwise catastrophic.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:12 | 4275880 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

The bitcoin transaction network can be maintained with pen and paper.

The digital signatures and hasing can be done on an abicus.

Modern computers just speed up the process.

If the grid went down and we had to rely once again on inked toilet paper or perform the laborsome task of maintaining bitcoin, what would be the price your willing to pay for liberty??

The next major selection event will greatly reduce the human population. The survivers will be those who can perform these functions in their head.

Natural Selection FTW!

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:34 | 4275900 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

I'm not sure what you're saying,

"If the grid went down and we had to rely once again on inked toilet paper or perform the laborsome task of maintaining bitcoin, what would be the price your willing to pay for liberty??"

The price to pay for not having possession is losing your "possession", No?  Like virtual food or virtual protection, it won't help you when you need it.  As far as Liberty, I'm seeing with time that it's not meant for everyone, just the brave.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:48 | 4275919 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

"As far as Liberty, I'm seeing with time that it's not meant for everyone, just the brave."

I agree brother.


Bitcoins are in my possession. Its just very difficult to express that possession because it involves long strings of letters and numbers that are complexly calculated.

So when SHTF, do you want federal reserve notes or bitcoin. You suggest bitcoin is totally reliant on electricity and internet. This is not true. They just make the system as efficient as it is.  Computers are way more efficient at calculations than an abicus is.

Bitcoin would be difficult to transact with if we didn't have electricity and computers. But not impossible.

I'm asking if you would deal with that difficulty to have liberty or if you would stick with federal reserve notes for convenience.


Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:27 | 4275967 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

A stable currency is only one part of the liberty equation within a free land.  I'm not concerned about when TSHTF, I'm ready, it took me over 4 years to feel comnfortable.  Fuck the Fed and all the other progressive socialists and their machinations.  Our problem is political, not finalcial, we can create anything we want.  The solution will take courage and sacrifice, there's no easy button, never has been. 

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:07 | 4276472 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture

Any thing can be used as a stable currency like space rock or dust from moon or sea shell. You just need to keep it away from bankers.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 02:40 | 4276278 Matt
Matt's picture

You are missing a big part. Without the Internet, or even with the Internet but just with fragmented networks or bad latency, the blockchain would fork all the time. If a person in Brazil solved a block with an abacus, and that same month someone in China solved the same block with an abacus, and they did not directly talk to each other but the information only moved through sailors on wooden sailing ships, the ledger (blockchain) would fork into two seperate ones.

What I'm saying is, without fast computers and a single, open, global Internet, bitcoin cannot work. A derivative, paper-based alt coin could exist, but would be far less practical or secure.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 02:57 | 4276286 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

Aye, pretty much need fully funcitoning electricity and internet grid for Bitcoin to be "usuable".  There are plans to broadcast over Shortwave radio to parts of the world that is still networked.  Anyways, this all goes into the price discovery process for BTC.  This is not limited to Bitcoin by any stretch, For instance, IBM, MS, Apple, Cysco, etc etc also require a functioning grid and should be factored into their corporate value.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 04:43 | 4276354 Rock On Roger
Rock On Roger's picture

SW is interesting. Should I have a set?


Stack On

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 07:55 | 4276433 zhandax
zhandax's picture

If I understand this shit correctly, essentially the complexity level is adjusted constantly to produce a more or less even release rate of new coins.  If, for some reason, we are all reduced to slide rules, the complexity level should adjust to allow production with that technology.  Much of this seems rather well thought out, so I will take it at face value that there is that much tolerance built into the system.  Since my interest currently is more at an academic level, don't adjust any behaviors based on this conclusion (not that I think any of you will).

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 08:15 | 4276439 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

Yep, difficulty is adjusted every 2016 blocks (or about every 2 weeks).  

The last adjustment was a 30% increase.

[Wiki] [Charts]


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:16 | 4276485 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture



Hold pencil just broke.


OK....from the beginning again...

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 13:50 | 4277039 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

How about some realism in that scenario?  Suppose BTC is outlawed and .gov uses NSA to track down users or it is outlawed and there is no network.  You would have to do the calculations manually. 

How do you you keep track of who has which BTCs?  A BTC written on a scrap of TP would be somewhat trivial to counterfeit or just reuse over and over with different vendors.  You don't have to track the transactions with a metal.  The metal just is. Granted you can make fake metal but it would be extremely trivial to test for that compared to BTC.

Who would have the time to sit down and do the calculations?  "I want to trade BTC for a dozen eggs...."  It just wouldn't be worth the hassle.  With a metal you just give a weight and go.  Convenience will win every time.

BTC is only realistic and viable longterm in utopia.  There is no utopia. 

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 08:20 | 4276440 fiftybagger
fiftybagger's picture

"The bitcoin transaction network can be maintained with pen and paper."

Try not to refute the wookies at Zerohead.  They tend to growl and spit things at you.

The Bitcoin Channel

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:25 | 4275894 Dr. No
Dr. No's picture

I agree completely.

I mined a few coins a year or two ago, but after the novelty of it wore off, I went back to crunching WCG. I won't let the aliens go by if I can help it!

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 01:43 | 4276241 Abitdodgie
Abitdodgie's picture

We should all buy moar gold and then whatch the bankers knock the price down again on monday morning, then when they have done that we should buy moar at a discount because that makes total fucking sence FUCK BITCOIN. GOLDCOIN the money of retards.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 03:26 | 4276305 kodachrome
kodachrome's picture

Pardon me, I was just sitting here thinking "What fucking good/usefulness is this guy doing by shouting FUCK BITCOIN for all of zerohedge to see on every post?"

Not sure if stupid or troll.



Thu, 12/26/2013 - 11:16 | 4276679 fonestar
fonestar's picture

"I care because I don't want kids to grow up thinking that imaginary shit like bitcoin is real, and I certainly don't want kids pursuing the mining of bitcoins because I cannot think of a greater waste of the boon that is cheap electricity. See HonestAnn's post about space aliens down below."


Computer networks are not "imaginary".  They are real.  As real as a brick and as real as a silver coin.  To argue that the Bitcoin network is "imaginary" is beyond counter-factual, it is stupid.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:19 | 4275726 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Speaking for myself, number one, real money is not encumbered by anything, it doesn't need anything to be recognized as money. BitCoin is obviously encumbered by its very nature, it relies on the internet & devices requiring power to access the internet.

I've said before (and its still my opinion) its fine for moving money around outside of a governments prying eyes, in a metropolis (at one time) BUT it still would do you no good in the middle of the Sahara when you're really needing a camel (or pick any other scenario).

Then we get to, number two, a subject that purists (such as yourself) don't want to face.

How is it (from a purists standpoint, I assume you are) that wealth can be allowed to be created by "factory farms" such as the article describes? Because they have the wealth to get even wealthier? Where are the noble hackers to stop this inequity?

I don't really care that the Winklevoss twins, "Satoshi", Jed McCaleb and a host of others got in on the front end of nothingingness but calling it money and marketing as money has always been a problem for me, not to mention steering everyone towards a truly "cashless society" reliant on the very things BitCoin uses itself, that is, reliant on something outside itself.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:38 | 4275749 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

Isn't gold also encumberd?

First it requires secure storage. How is the guy looking for a camel going to secure it?

Second how is the guy with the camel going to carry the gold if it's a sizable amount? Wouldn't a brain wallet be lighter? Would he need a second camel to carry the money?

Third are there issues associated with using gold as a global currency? The cost to transact globally with bitcoin is infintesimally smaller than gold, even with network and energy costs included isn't it?

Fourth, this one has yet to play out fully but I believe bitcoins can be secured against a 1933 style confiscation event more easily than gold can be. Again I dont know this but I believe this.

I agree with you that bitcoin is encumbered. I just think gold is as well in its own unique ways. 


Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:48 | 4275763 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

There's a reason why the world went gold-backed currency for a while.  Because transacting with actual bullion is so damn awkward.  Sophisticated weights and measures are needed and, nowadays, ultrasound oscillators to detect tungsten.  Transportation costs, delays and security are also a factor.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:02 | 4275868 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Future "reserve"currencies may have to prove their worth by using a Bitcoin model to "prove" that they will not dilute the currency, while maintaining a physical reserve of something valuable like Gold to back the virtual $.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:45 | 4275915 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

Sure, I'd be interested to check out such a system.  How to trust the reserve accounting? How to protect the backing asset from theft and Gov't confiscation?  How to keep the costs down to be competitive in the marketplace?  I'm not holding my breath and in the meantime there is the Bitcoin option.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:01 | 4275934 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

You can't prevent theft by Govt. Tyrants of anything you can't hide from them.  A stable system will be created however because everyone expects some stability in their currency.    People with some $$ are scurring to put their wealth into anything stable.  It is about trust, in something real.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:39 | 4275980 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

Bitcoin throws down the gauntlet at governments with a challenge: We are protecting ourselves from theft through cryptography. As individuals we have to protect our private keys and we are individually possible single-points of failure, similar to gold confiscation.  Be the overall system is distributed far and wide and and protected through cryptography.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:57 | 4275998 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

I'm not against Bitcoin at all, it's the future model for a stable currency.  But there is no way I would trade any of my real assets for more bitcoins.  Extra Fiat I don't want to keep in a bank account, yes all day long, but I'm already prepped, so for me it's speculation.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 00:39 | 4276147 hamstercheese
hamstercheese's picture

Just a thought - what is 'currency'? Would you take 2000 shares of MMM for a house valued around $ 275,000? I'm starting to wonder how long it will be until any security, bond, virtual currency, etc will, due to algorithmic mutations, be useable in transactions.  All you need is a Carfax report on the security you're accepting.


BTW, did Al Gore invent algorithms?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 02:40 | 4276279 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

Har har, al gore.

Some of the untapped potential of bitcoin is its use as a distributed property rights management system.  Basically chopping up a coin in tiny parts, each piece of which would represent a stock in a company or some real estate, perhaps. Currently folks are betting at 2:1 odds that gold, oil and USD will be stored in the Bitcoin blockchain by 2015.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:50 | 4275765 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

So the thousands of years of pulling gold out of the ground have been in vain, huh. What a pity.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:05 | 4275771 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

I dunno.  According to honestann the reason we pull gold out of the ground is to buy a ticket on an intergalactic space shuttle to some far off world.

So no,   not in vain.


At least no more so than human endeavor to elucidate mathematics.  Which is a virtual item.  Can you show me where math resides please.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:23 | 4275807 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

Mathematics resides in the temple of truth. The notion of truth is extraneous to and a required prerequisite for the existence of Mathematics. If math is the language which describes existence, truth is what lets the notion of existence to exist at all, etc.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:28 | 4275816 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

awesome explanation. I upvoted ya.

Now just follow that logic as it applies to bitcoin.

I'm genuinely interested in your thoughts here.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:45 | 4275914 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Skateboarder, P-d,

Righteous dialog, greens!  (It's still Xmas!)

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:12 | 4275945 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

"The truth shall set you free" was inscribed on the steps of my elementary school.  It didn't make sense to me as a kid, I thought,- No way!, the truth will get you busted. :)

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 03:02 | 4276288 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

Best post ever. (and it's still Christmas! (well... for PST))

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:18 | 4276490 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture





"The truth shall set you free" 


It actaully goes something like this.... 

Arbeit macht frei.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 04:14 | 4276333 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

@Prisoners_dilemna (the continuation of thoughts you requested):

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that emulates the notion of the gradual extraction of a precious resource that has been designated as a common fungible proxy. It is backed by electricity and cannot exist without it.

Human beings are computational machines. The act of computation requires an answer to arrive to, and that answer is a state of truth. (full idea in another post below) Since the efforts of a human being's labor for computing must be expressed in a fungible proxy of some sort for the notion of commerce to exist at all, it is required for the proxy to be indestructible if the efforts are valiant enough to deserve such a proxy. Real men make valiant efforts and demand that their proxies be indestructible. Rare metals (and other metals too) are indestructible. The notion of storing the effort of worthwhile computation (arriving at truth) is stored without fail when you use one or more metals as the proxy. Of course, you can abstract the real metal with a paper representation and even a digital one. But let the damn thing be real and one-on-one (physical redeemable for paper redeemable for digital without any compromise whatsoever) for fuck's sake.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 13:21 | 4276955 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

Thank you.

Was it aristotle or plato that suggested money be durable? GOld is hardly indestuctible though.

Coins get worn down and lose their edges. Isnt that why coins have ridges on them?


Fri, 12/27/2013 - 07:30 | 4278717 tradewithdave
tradewithdave's picture

And how exactly is your idea inconsistent with a "vector gold" or economic justice model for the distribution of "in-situ precious metal resources" exactly?  Jus' sayin'.  Don't you wonder at all why they are forcing the gold miners to stop mining?  The new belief is that the safest/most indestructable place for "them" to store the gold is in the earth's crust.  What's not real about that?  Then redistribution is easy... you don't even need a Fedex for that.  Planetary resources... but what does Google know anyway?

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 23:45 | 4276063 g speed
g speed's picture

I call BS-----and redundant.   --- I downed you


Thu, 12/26/2013 - 02:51 | 4276284 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

PURE Mathematics is the class of all propositions of the form "p implies q," where p and q are propositions containing one or more variables, the same in the two propositions, and neither p nor q contains any constants except logical constants. And logical constants are all notions definable in terms of the following: Implication, the relation of a term to a class of which it is a member, the notion of such that, the notion of relation, and such further notions as may be involved in the general notion of propositions of the above form. In addition to these, mathematics uses a notion which is not a constituent of the propositions which it considers, namely the notion of truth.

-Bertrand Russell, Principles of Mathematics, Chapter I (Pg. 3)

You can judge the late eugenicist however you want, but he did churn out some useful stuff (full read of Principles in the link). It should be quite obvious to even the casual observer that truth is not an inherent part of mathematics or anything at all. It is merely a notion, but it is King Notion - the source of all. What makes truth so special is that it it behaves as an element and cannot be recursed or broken down further, i.e. it is the base case in the realm of notions. In fact, it is King Element, because the act of computation is not possible if you do not have an answer to arrive to. The answer you arrive to is one of the states of truth. Obviously it is not binary, implying a continous domain, rather than the discrete. Some might argue it is discrete, i.e. true or false. I say bollocks.

What are your thoughts about truth?

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:57 | 4275849 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Sorry bout that Prisoners_dilemna, fruit salad, cutting up vegis and whatnot.

1) "Isn't gold also encumberd?" No, it never is, monetarily, which is the context of what we're talking about.

2) "First it requires secure storage." Yes. "How is the guy looking for a camel going to secure it?" Just like anything else he values and always has the option of using physical force, unlike BitCoin.

3) "Second how is the guy with the camel going to carry the gold if it's a sizable amount?" The one with the extra camel to sell or the one needing a camel because he's on foot? "Wouldn't a brain wallet be lighter?" Lol...yes and completely useless. "Would he need a second camel to carry the money?" Did the guy with the gold to exchange for a camel carry that much with him?

4) "Third are there issues associated with using gold as a global currency?" Its recognized the world over as money, including by the guy with an extra camel. to exchange for it. "The cost to transact globally with bitcoin is infintesimally smaller than gold, even with network and energy costs included isn't it?" So is a common wire transfer, ex-pats & illegals do it all the time but for that...BitCoin is fine, as I've already said.

5) "Fourth, this one has yet to play out fully but I believe bitcoins can be secured against a 1933 style confiscation event more easily than gold can be. Again I dont know this but I believe this." To confiscate mine, I would have to be dead, so I really wouldn't be concerned about being buried in poverty or monuments to my passing.

6) "I agree with you that bitcoin is encumbered." Well that took "I just think gold is as well in its own unique ways." In a sense yes, but you can also use BitCoin as a decoy away from where you are not on a virtual level, so if you're looking to hide your movements & whereabouts it works. But in the end, real assets/money is as anonymous as it gets ;-)

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:27 | 4275891 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

As to point #1, that is only true if you store it yourself.  If you trust a bank to store it then there is counter party risk and it is encumbered. But if store at home then you are correct.

#2 I dont see what you mean. Why can't I protect my bitcoin wallet with force?

#3I was trying to ask how the guy buying the camel will carry all his gold. And then I as trying to ask if he would need a second camel to carry it all. I was inferring that gold is less portable than bitcoin. Or at least it requires more work to carry it the same distance as bitcoin. Agree?

#4 Wire transfer costs much more than BTC. This is one of the reasons why bitcoin has utility. So we agree here. Gold is mooney world wide except there's lots of people who wont accept it. I remember seeing a video of a guy trying to sell an ounce of gold on the street for $50... no takers. So he asked for $20... no takers.  SO he wanted to pay for a slice of bubble gum with one sold him the gum.   Gold ought to be recognized as money but I dont believe the whole world will accept it. It ought to be universally acceptable.. I wish it was. But in fact it is not.  I can't pay for gasoline with bitcoin or gold yet.

#5  That is some big talk and I applaud that. However you are unique in this stance. I believe most people will roll over the minute some guns arepointed at them. Very few people actually stand on their principles. So when it comes to security from government confiscation I still believe bitcoin are better. I only believe this because there is no evidence that my brain wallet exists, where as my gold, sunk to the bottom ofthe lake or hidden in my walls, can be detected, and then I will be called a felon and charged $10,000.  What would most people do if gold were money and govt decided to confiscate it?  Well history shows us they roll over or die. Bitcoin we will have to wait and see.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me on this forum!  Cya at the next BTC article  :)

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:03 | 4275933 mmanvil74
mmanvil74's picture

I like the idea of gold.  I don't wear it though, and I see no need for it other than as the ultimate insurance policy against a complete global meltdown.  But it annoys me how die hard gold bugs, while claiming that gold is valuable because it has been accepted as money for thousands of years, refuse to accept the simple fact that gold is basically useless.  It only has value because people believe it does, "belief" is not "tangible" or "instrinsic", and if you are starving in the desert you are better off with one camel than a truck load of gold.  So just get off the "gold is the only form of money" idea.  Bitcoin is far more useful for today's economy than gold.  You can hold your gold to your grave praying for nuclear war or you can buy Bitcoin and join the rest of us in creating a decentralized modern economy where laborers finally have a chance and the banksters get what they deserve.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:12 | 4275941 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Ah!  Not a FOFOA reader!  Actually, the relative uselessness of Au* is one of its main attractions a numeraire (an accounting of a Store of Value).  It is wanted.  And people hoarding it do not affect any industry..., imagine if SILVER wre all in the hands of hoarders, silver is used more applications than any other material (save oil & steel).  If all the silver were off the market, many electronic components would be far more expensive, there are NO good substitutes for silver in many cases.

IMO, gold and BTC complement each other nicely.  But, I would (and of course do) hold much more in Au than BTC...

*Earlier today, an alert ZH-er posted some new research that has found interesting new uses for gold (nano-gold) as catalysts and similar.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 09:48 | 4276537 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture



Not a FOFOA reader!


Naw, but I was an ANOTHER reader......I was gone by the time he  FOFOA came around.


Well not gone.....obviously I'm still around. Has anyone heard from FOA lately?

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:17 | 4275949 WmMcK
WmMcK's picture

It only has value because people believe it does,

Au (and Ag) are excellent reflectors, malleable, ductile, etc.

"belief" is not "tangible" or "instrinsic", and if you are starving in the desert

But I don't plan on going to the desert.

you are better off with one camel than a truck load of gold.

No thanks.  YMMV.

So just get off the "gold is the only form of money" idea.

Silver is fine by me, as are Pt and Pd, etc.

Bitcoin is far more useful for today's economy than gold.

Gold is a store of value, bitcoin is a means of exchange.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 01:04 | 4276187 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

Forget about the camel. I'll use bitcoin to buy a coconut cut in two pieces, and continue through the desert 'riding' them as many noble kniggets did.

Question is...who was on the shiiter end of that transaction? I think it's a wash..outside of comic value. Even that can be debated further.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 23:06 | 4276007 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

Aw shit, there got the crazy ass ZH'ers applying gumption to the topic at hand.

Quote me:

Coon Shit > Bit Coin



Thu, 12/26/2013 - 01:06 | 4276192 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

EPA and the ASPCA would shut down a coon shit mining operation pretty quick.
Nothing will be allowed to compete with the current coon shit mining op going on in the beltway...and boy fucking howdy....does that coon shit pile up.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 11:21 | 4276690 fonestar
fonestar's picture

The Bitcoin protocol itself does not rely on electricity.  Accessing the Bitcoin network relies on electricity.  So what you are trying to argue is that if you believe the power is going out indefinitely and the internet is going away indefinitely, don't buy Bitcoin?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 06:14 | 4276390 TWSceptic
TWSceptic's picture

Why do you care if you don't use it?

It's competition for gold and silver, which he problably invested in. Not that it will be competing forever, but right now it is.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:44 | 4275676 Urban Roman
Urban Roman's picture

Krugman said that they beat the ASICs and make them work 24 hours a day under un-ASIC conditions. And they don't pay them minimum wage.

I'd say the ASICs just need to organize a better union and hire some ASIC lobbyists.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 23:17 | 4276020 logicalman
logicalman's picture

Them ASICs better watch out for those FPGAs!

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:45 | 4275677 Squid-puppets a...
Squid-puppets a-go-go's picture

makes me wonder if all this processing power was devoted to, i dunno, cracking the cure for cancer or the common cold

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:18 | 4275720 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

Why not write your senator and request a law be passed? That's exactly what the healthcare lobby did to ensure sick people stay sick for profits. There's little profit in preventative healthcare.

All we have here is a free market and the ability of individuals to make decisions for themselves.


PS cancer can be cured. People just need to stop putting shit into their bodies.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:08 | 4275877 Jafo
Jafo's picture

Which raises a very good question.  Just what are all those solved algorithms leading to?  And following on from that, who is going to benefit from the solution of all of those algorithms?

Is someone going to get a patent on anti-gravity courtesy of all that bit coin mining?  If they did I would have to give a hat tip to the cunning means of harnessing all of that computing power for free.  Now, that is thinking.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:06 | 4275940 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

The solved algorithms lead to nothing.  They are themselves proof that some work has been accomplished. The higher the computing power, the more secure the bitcoin network is. All participants in the network benefit from this security and miners are rewarded with bitcoins (created out of nothing) for their efforts. If an attacker tries to disrupt the free flow of money over the Bitcoin network they will need 50% of the network's computing power.  

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:56 | 4275993 Jafo
Jafo's picture

Thanks TH73.  However, it is disappointing.  The potential for that "work" to actually lead to something is there but it seems that it is being wasted.  Maybe the next version of BTC will utilise all that algorithm solving and do something both useful and wonderful with it.  Such is life.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 13:23 | 4276971 Prisoners_dilemna
Prisoners_dilemna's picture

Maybe you would like Primecoin.

There are some miners pointing there computers at the Primecoin blockchain.


Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:33 | 4275902 AGAU
AGAU's picture

Hemp oil for cancer, garlic for cold!

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 01:10 | 4276199 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

Leeches for everything else....brilliant.

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 07:51 | 4278728 tradewithdave
tradewithdave's picture

How 'bout using that power to crack PGP?  What would that be worth... essentially control the internet?  The NSA wouldn't want to crack PGP now would they?  Probably wouldn't be in the budget.  Maybe they could outsource it to Snowden and the Bitcoin network while drawing attention to themselves.  That strategery certainly worked for Bart Chilton. 

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:28 | 4275737 fonestar
fonestar's picture

"But, this BTC mining article was extremely intersting, thanks Tylers for posting it.  It will be a wonderful journey watching and participating in BTC."

Indeed.  You are truly a rare person and are making history if you bought BTC in 2013.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:15 | 4275883 quasimodo
quasimodo's picture

"You are truly a rare person and are making history if you bought BTC in 2013."


You sure left that statement open for interpretation.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 00:55 | 4276170 Freddie
Freddie's picture

The Tylers should look at hosting in Iceland versus Switzerland.  I checked it out and Iceland has a number of hosting companies and passed laws to protect whistleblowers and others.   I wonder how big the pipes are to Europe and North America.   I thought I saw a 200 GB fiber connection.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:42 | 4275754 orez65
orez65's picture

"It will be a wonderful journey watching and participating in BTC."

You must be out of your fucking mind, "wonderful journey"?

Mining for Bitcoins is like guessing at lottery numbers.

Whoever designed the Bitcoin software can create as many Bitcoins as he wants and at any time that he wants.

Bitcoin is as much of a scam as the US Dollar.

Congratulations if you speculate and win buying and selling Bitcoins. But there is no new fundamental money in Bitcoins. It's just a computerized Ponzi scheme.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:17 | 4275780 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

Finally, a voice of reason on this thread!  You seem to have it all figured out, just keep to your winning strategy, mate.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:22 | 4275890 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture



@ orez65

It is an interesting and wonderful journey...  Look at the math under the hood.  At least three impressive encryption techniques, and it, to a degree, works!  I bought 0.25 oz of Au with BTC...  Also, there is very possibly going to be a set of scholarly articles written about BTC, the hardware, how strong the various encryption mechanisms are, how & why there are failures, etc., etc.

Bitcoin and related are a "leap into the void".  I am surprised that so many here are not captured by this...  But then, not many are by FOFOA either.


I have no real idea whether BTC is going to work out or not.  I would guess that some kind of crypto-currency will though.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:51 | 4275989 Bunga Bunga
Bunga Bunga's picture

Whoever designed the Bitcoin software can create as many Bitcoins as he wants and at any time that he wants.

Since the code is open source you and millions of others can change the parameters as you like anytime. Good luck.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 01:09 | 4276193 Freddie
Freddie's picture


I have been scratching my head about this mining operation idea.  I came to the same exact conclusion before reading your response.  It is like having really fast servers trying to guess lotto numbers.

I think Bitcoins backed by gold might be cool.  The problem is how do we verify that I have $2,000 in gold bars.  The second you say that you put it in a depository - it is no good.  Once you lose possession - game over.  The govt can always raid or quietly loot a depository.

If someone could come up with a way then gold prices would skyrocket.

Here is Dr. Jim Willie and Turd Ferguson on Christmas Eve talking about gold, the dollar, global fianancial system.

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 08:30 | 4276443 fiftybagger
fiftybagger's picture

Talking about backing Bitcoin means you clearly don't get it.

The Bitcoin Channel

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 12:43 | 4276870 PeakOil
PeakOil's picture

No Gold backing. Bitcoin is "backed" by Math and an open source network protocol. A distributed, not easily controlable, unhackable, unspammable, network of TRUST that verifiably validates distributed consensus. That is the true value of Bitcoin. This property of bitcoin, which is VALUED, is unprecedented in world history. We are discovering right now how much the bitcoin consensus is worth.

Gold shares some of the properties of bitcoin. Gold is a wonderful store of value. In other ways it is very different. Owning Gold is not without risk though. Nor is owning Bitcoin free of risk. Anything that has value has risk attached, primarily theft.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:05 | 4275632 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

I clicked on this link to see what fonestar said. I'm sad not to see his (Canadian?) bitcoin enthusiasm here on point.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 19:32 | 4275740 fonestar
fonestar's picture

I'm currently in Mexico.  I have offered the street vendors here payment in USD, CAD, Pesos, pure silver coin, junk silver and Bitcoin.  All of them wanted paper US dollars still.  So you could take that as a glass half-full or half-empty.  Alternative currencies are still very much unloved after all the central planner's shenaningans of the past five years, but that means we just have that much further to run.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:15 | 4275782 ThisIsBob
ThisIsBob's picture

I suspect that it is a rare 3rd world official who will not accept  "C" notes for his trouble.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:26 | 4275893 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

True dat ---^

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:39 | 4275907 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture



@ fonestar

Peru in the 1980s suffered from a hyperinflation.  The ONLY things accepted (retail level, this was before we had our bearing company there) were Peruvian Soles and US$.  Peruvian Soles, yes, they were up to 5,000,000 Soles notes...

No silver.  Many survivalists (and I am kind-of a half-assed survivalist) think that silver (esp. "junk silver") would be accepted in a SHTF.  I never saw that (payment by silver) in Peru, even though they were the No. 2 producer in the world of silver.  One of FOFOA's top fans went through a hyperinflation, he saw NO ONE in his country accept silver as payment.  Only local currency and US$.

So your comments about what Mexican street vendors rings true.


BTC's future is uncertain AFAIK.  But, it's been a fun and strange trip!

Great Xmas back at you!

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 23:16 | 4276018 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

DCRB, I normally don't haggle with you, but ...

But, it's been a fun and strange trip!

This can only be true before, as citizens of various countries, we have gotten to the "tax mule dick goes where?!?!" phase yet.

This is widely concerning given the broad use of "central banks" which tend to frat-rape muppets. I hardly feel confidence knowing that Russia/China may take over after the petro-dollar tanks ...

Tijuana Donkey Show may very well prove to be the prophetic ZH moniker ...



Thu, 12/26/2013 - 00:01 | 4276082 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Ya CrazyOne!  As I work to decipher exactly what you mean, I do concede, of course, that I know nothing...

Tijuana Donkey Show...  I wonder if that is like the Reynosa Donkey Show I heard so much about when I lived in Texas...  I went with a crew of three others to see (ah, MANY MOONS ago, that would be in the 1980s for the young 'uns here), nope...


I feel little confidence in our financial future as well.  So much criminality, and so entrenched.

"Off the grid" is a good answer for those who can do it.  Else:

Gold, fishez!

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 00:53 | 4276167 StillSilence
StillSilence's picture

Yea the usd has always been there to turn to during hyperinflations, but what's left when it's the usd's turn?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 02:28 | 4276269 scrappy
scrappy's picture

Are the miners digging more than their own graves?

A major new trend for scientific problem solving is distributed computing. In distributed computing, computers connected by a network are used collectively to solve a single large problem. Many scientists are discovering that their computational requirements are best served not by a single, monolithic computer but by a variety of distributed computing resources linked by high-speed networks. This worldwide popularity of distributed computing can be traced back mostly to software developed in ORNL’s distributed computing research project.

What's Bit Coin really computing?

Is it a number of things?

And they pay to do it.

Big Data mining analysis for 100 Alex.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 17:40 | 4275597 Seer
Seer's picture

It could only ever come down to this...

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 17:44 | 4275605 Seer
Seer's picture

"The technology also cuts down on electricity use -- one of the other major costs associated with Bitcoin mining. Lau wouldn't reveal how much it cost to build the mine, but he said that electricity bills for a fully-operational mine of this size would typically exceed $50,000 per month."

Bull shit!

Jevons Paradox.

While the process may be more efficient that in no way equates to LESS energy being used.  We are continuing to increase total energy usage: though I think we're topping.

I will say this, though, at least there's an associated cost to "wealth" creation, rather than shit like QE, FB and TWTR.  And with all things, opportunity costs should be seen clearly: this is energy that isn't going into food production or for use in cooking or heating.

Keep this up and one day we'll all, except for the "wealthy," be strapped into our seats stroking away to generate power for the "mining" operation...  Always figured this, but it was more along the line of use in extracting real shit (such as energy)...

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:04 | 4275625 mumbo.jumbo
mumbo.jumbo's picture

as complexity rises and mining rewards shrink the income of the miners will shift to transaction fees.


at that point the profitability will be limited by a non-trivial function of the total bitcoin economy, the percentage people are willing to pay for transaction fees, and the relative cost of electricity and chip manufacturing compared to other goods.


and that in turn will limit how much human action and resources will be put into mining as opposed to everything else that people desire. but it's not all wasted, because sound money is as much needed for a complex society as food. and if it can help defund politicians and their wars, then that gives a huge leeway to waste on mining...


but as promising as it is, i'm still staring baffled at this whole thing...

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:13 | 4275642 Seer
Seer's picture

I think your take is as good as any :-)

At any rate, it's not looking good for the majority of the planet's inhabitants. (but all the prophets pretty much warned us of this)

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:09 | 4275879 Dr. No
Dr. No's picture

Are there any power companies accepting BC for payment? No? There is the major problem with BC, it needs to be converted.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:28 | 4275896 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

Patience, grasshoper.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 17:48 | 4275611 666
666's picture

How to solve the national debt: Use the NSA's supercomputers to mine Bitcoins.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:16 | 4275646 Seer
Seer's picture

You have restored my belief in people's ability meet challenges through creative thinking!

Let's just hope the NSA does it the legal way rather than just stealing (crap! hope I didn't give them any ideas!).

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 18:53 | 4275681 Row Well Number 41
Row Well Number 41's picture

Your not sick or twisted enough to give them ideas.


Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:18 | 4275796 RafterManFMJ
RafterManFMJ's picture

This settles it; I'm dragging the Coleco 64 out of the garage and starting my own bItcoin mine!

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 20:48 | 4275847 TheHound73
TheHound73's picture

You can mine bitcoins from a webpage.  You might solve a block once every 300 years or so, but you'll mining.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 21:15 | 4275882 Dr. No
Dr. No's picture

Huh? The article indicated there are only 11M left to be mined? Assume $1000/ BC, and you may be able to pay the interest for one day.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:10 | 4275943 seek
seek's picture

Believe it or not, the bitcoin network likely has many thousands of time the performance (for mining bitcoins) than all of the NSA's computers combined. The scale of computing resources devoted to bitcoin is truly astonishing given how new it is.

My own personal mining rigs exceed the performance of the world's top 10 supercomputers at mining bitcoins combined. And I'm just one guy with a tiny, tiny fraction of the mining capability shown in this article.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 22:54 | 4275994 Bunga Bunga
Bunga Bunga's picture

That's the best way to inflate national debt much faster Mr 666!

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 17:56 | 4275616 css1971
css1971's picture

As I rack up a few more rosetta@home task points.

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 17:57 | 4275617 lordbyroniv
lordbyroniv's picture

Krugman likes bottles in coal mines but doesnt like bitcoinz?  Very confused.  :(

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