The Crypto Community is Freaking Out Over an 18 Digit Number: Here’s Why
When an average person sees an 18 digit alphanumeric code, they don’t think much of it. When a member of the cryptocurrency community, however, sees that code, they lose their minds. That’s exactly what’s happening in the community today.
Ever since the release of this 18 digit number, the community has been talking about things like time travel, the return of Satoshi, and quantum computing breakthroughs.
What’s going on? What’s the story behind this number? Let’s take a closer look.
On June 19, at 19:32 UTC, block number 528249 was discovered by the BTC.top mining pool, one of the world’s largest mining pools.
At first glance, nothing seemed unusual about the block. It was just over 1MB in size. It had 6,500 inputs, 1047 outputs, and 125 SegWit transactions. These numbers are all similar to previous blocks.
However, if you take a closer look, things start to get weird. When you view the block in a block explorer, then hover your cursor over the block hash, you’ll see the number 00000000000000000021e800.
That’s 18 zeroes followed by 21e8, and then two more zeroes.
That number doesn’t look particularly remarkable, nor does the complete hash with which it’s associated, which is 00000000000000000021e800c1e8df51b22c1588e5a624bea17e9faa34b2dc4a.
However, these two sets of numbers have given the cryptosphere a bit of a puzzle. Bitcoin.com published an article claiming “…the Cryptosphere is Losing Its Mind Over This 18-Digit Number.”
The oddity was first reported by Mark Wilcox, who tweeted a hash of the block approximately 90 minutes after the BTC.top mining pool discovered it. The tweet quickly gathered steam in the community. Half the community seemed to believe the world was ending. The other half were confused about why anyone cared.
The hash number of that block, 000000000019d6689c085ae165831e934ff763ae46a2a6c172b3f1b60a8ce26f, has been pondered by the community ever since. It contains two hex zeroes more than is required on the bitcoin network, for example. It also took six days to mine, leading many to compare bitcoin’s genesis to the Biblical genesis story, where God took six days to create the world and rested on the seventh day.
Why is the block hash number 00000000000000000021e800 such a big deal? Let’s take a closer look.
Why the Number is a Big Deal
00000000000000000021e800 is a big deal for several different reasons.
The first 18 digits of that block are totally normal. The vast majority of blocks being mined have 18 leading zeroes. One block out of 16 will have 19 leading zeroes, while one block out of 256 will have 20 leading zeroes.
However, it’s the next four numbers that are astounding people. The number 21 is significant because bitcoin has a total supply of 21 million.
The four digits 21e8 are also significant because it’s a well-known internet theory. 21e8, also known as E8, is referred to as the “Theory of Everything”, or “Unified Field Theory”. There’s even a website called 21e8.com where you can view a fractal pattern based on the elementary particle spin that forms a part of E8 theory.
You know the “Golden Ratio” in mathematics? 21e8 or E8 is similar to that idea.
Some people see the presence of 21e8 as an impossible coincidence. They believe it’s a sign someone has created a quantum computer capable of manipulating the bitcoin network.
In reality, as one Redditor on /r/bitcoin explains, it’s not that big of a coincidence:
“21e8″ has no significance at all–hell, there's a 1/65536 chance that any given block will start with that–and after 528,482 you'd expect about 8 blocks beginning with that anyway.
You know, “21” being special because there's 21M coins in existence isn't very meaningful–why not “bc” for “bitcoin” or “abcd” or anything else, or if you really wanted to show off that you had significantly more mining power, more 0s?”
In other words, after the 528,000+ blocks mined in the bitcoin network, we can expect 8 blocks to have 21e8 in them.
Despite the fact that this is a non-issue, websites like Bitcoin.com are losing their minds over it:
“It has been estimated that it would take 2,500 years to create that hash, working at a rate of 1 exahash/second (which represents around 2.5% of the current BTC network hashrate). For this feat to have occurred deliberately, it would had to have been performed on a yet undiscovered quantum computer, or by a time traveler taking advantage of future advancements in processing power. As theories go, this one’s pretty tinfoil, but there are those who believe that Satoshi Nakamoto was a time traveler.”
Bitcoin.com tries to drum up further controversy by referring to people like Andrew DeSantis, who is working on a quantum computer and has links to E8 theory. DeSantis, to his credit, has replied to the original tweet by Mark Wilcox numerous times.
Conclusion: This is a Non-Story
Ultimately, this hash is a complete non-issue. The hash number doesn’t appear to be significant for any real reason. You could derive similar meaning from any hash block. If someone really had a quantum computer with the ability to manipulate the bitcoin network, then they would likely post something more meaningful – like a block hash with 21BTC within it.