Radioactive toxic waste from Chernobyl used to ensure cryptocurrency's security
As part of their ‘Powers of Tau’ ceremony designed to create and then dispose of cryptographic "toxic waste,” Ryan Pierce and Andrew Miller used radioactive graphite sourced from the core of Chernobyl’s infamous nuclear facility to create low-level gamma and beta radiation – which were then converted into random numbers used to generate zcash’s public cryptography parameters.
“Powers of Tau is all about generating and safely disposing of cryptographic ‘toxic waste’. So, what better way to generate entropy than with actual radioactive toxic waste?” Miller wrote in a message published on the zcash mailing list.
To further guarantee that the digital ‘waste’ didn’t fall into the wrong hands, Pierce and Miller performed the procedure 3,000 feet (approx. 1km) above sea level on a small private aircraft in the airspace above Illinois and Wisconsin.
I succeeded in building my Chernobyl random number generator! Geiger kit: https://t.co/F0bRp3mScA Tube is a Russian SI-22G recovered from inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Radioactive source is a very small sample of Chernobyl reactor graphite. pic.twitter.com/F3WQ2Hts49— Ryan Pierce (@RyanPierce_Chi) January 18, 2018
Far from being tin-foil paranoids, zcash developers conducted their unusual airborne ceremony in order to ensure that the code used to create zcash cannot be compromised in any way by outside actors – a vital factor in creating confidence in the cryptocurrency.
According to Miller, the compute time took approximately 30 minutes and, at least in theory, successfully created a completely random, secure piece of code with which to build zcash – which may now even be immune to nuclear catastrophe.
Zcash is currently the world's 26th most valuable cryptocurrency with a market cap of over US$1.3 billion, according to CoinMarketCap website.
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