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The Almighty Buck Bitcoin Education Science

How a PhD Student Unlocked 1 Bitcoin Hidden In DNA ( 58

dmoberhaus writes: A 26-year-old Belgian PhD student named Sander Wuytz recently solved a 3-year-old puzzle that had locked the private key to 1 Bitcoin in a strand of synthetic DNA. Motherboard spoke with the student about how they managed to crack the puzzle, just days before it was set to expire. From the report: "As detailed by Nick Goldman, a researcher at the European Bioinformatics Institute, in his pioneering Nature paper on DNA storage, to encode information into DNA you take a text or binary file and rewrite it in base-3 (so rather than just ones and zeroes, there are zeroes, ones, and twos). This is then used to encode the data in the building blocks of life, the four nucleobases cytosine, thymine, adenine and guanine. As Wuyts explained to me, coding the data as nucleobases depended upon which nucleobase came before. So, for instance, if the previous base was adenine and the next pieces of data is a 0, it is coded as cytosine. If the next piece of data is a 1, it's coded as guanine, and so on. After the data is encoded as synthetic DNA fragments, these fragments are used to identify and read the actual files stored in the DNA. In the case of the Bitcoin challenge, there were a total of nine files contained in the DNA fragments. The files were encrypted with a keystream, which is a random series of characters that is included with the actual plain text message to obfuscate its meaning. The keystream code had been provided by Goldman in a document explaining the competition.

After running the code, Wuyts was able to combine the DNA fragments in the correct order to form one long piece of DNA. After working out some technical kinks, Wuyts was able to convert the DNA sequence into plain text, revealing the private key and unlocking the bitcoin (as well as some artefacts, including a drawing of James Joyce and the logo for the European Bioinformatics Institute). He had cracked the puzzle just five days before it was set to expire."

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How a PhD Student Unlocked 1 Bitcoin Hidden In DNA

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  • He hid a private key. A string of text. That's it. The story has nothing to do with cryptocurrency.

    These guys stored a video clip [] in DNA.

    • He hid a private key. A string of text. That's it. The story has nothing to do with cryptocurrency.

      Who said it did?

    • Re: "One Bitcoin" (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A bitcoin wallet consists of a private key and a public key. With the private key you can prove the wallet belongs to you and hence are able to start transactions.

      The private key hidden in the DNA belongs to a wallet in which 1 bitcoin was deposited, as a reward for solving the puzzle. So with recovering the private key, this student can access the bitcoin.

  • fuckin buttcoins (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Can this autism kroner bullshit finally crash? Does nobody understand the price is artificially inflated by the the tether money printer?

    The funniest thing is that bitcoin true believers were all about shitting on fractional reserves, but now that tether is printing fake money, they are all about fractional reserve scamming

  • after all the hubbub of the BTC markets these days (even though comcast, 1 evil company still has a nearly equivalent market cap) I find this story to be both entertaining and relevant to the technology. Other BTC news stories are just not as fun or insightful, mostly about money grubbers and corporate cronies gaining/losing whatever, just don't care anymore! I wanna see a DNA blockchain now, can we put wifi chips in pigs and code their dna with the blockchain info? Or how about a DNA interface with a raspb
  • the crash.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 25, 2018 @12:13AM (#55997427)

    if he would have worked faster, his 'prize' would have been $17k instead of 10k.. no.. 8k.. oh, wait.. 11k......

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If anyone else had known about this treasure hunt, it would have been claimed long ago. Just sayin'

    • by Anonymous Coward

      if he would have worked faster, his 'prize' would have been $17 instead of 10k..


  • by dohzer ( 867770 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @12:15AM (#55997433) Homepage

    But was it stored as big data in the DNA-cloud as a service?

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @12:28AM (#55997463)

    Picard received one section of the private key after the mysterious death of his old mentor - but he didn't know what it was at first, since they don't use money anymore in the 24th century. However they eventually figured out where more parts of the private key were, even though a Klingon captain and Tara King tried to interfere. Finally they got to the last planet, where the shapeshifter lady from DS9 gave a little holographic presentation.

  • Sad to see (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This type of story is about as Geeky / Nerdy / Technology based as it gets, and the modern day Slashdotter does nothing but talk it down.

    Before this thread is done, we'll have Trump, Russians, guns, Hillary, luddites, a GD hosts file that can fix anything, things that go Moo, all sorts of slurs and a few homophobic topics to wade through.

    I don't think it's Slashdot that has lost its way, but rather the clientele that frequent these parts nowadays.

    You would think Slashdot was a subreddit by the way folks act

    • Re: Sad to see (Score:3, Insightful)

      by datavirtue ( 1104259 )

      So, nothing has changed in 20 years. You are simply new here.

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )

        A lot has changed in 20 years - go back and read some of the threads. A lot less negativity, more acceptance.

    • You forgot a Beowulf cluster of hot grits, you insensitive clod!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Last I Iooked there were four bases, not three....

  • This is insane and NOT funny: []

    "Bitcoin is consuming enough energy to power Denmark for a year
    Mining the cryptocurrency ‘consumes a ridiculous amount of energy’ estimates suggest"

    For those of you who live in the US: Denmark is a small country up the north of Europe with less than 6 million inhabitants. In terms of civilization, it is more advanced than the US. This means that they consume energy in abundance.
  • You see, we Belgians are not only good in making beer, waffles, fries, ....

  • He deserves that bitcoin!
  • He had cracked the puzzle just five days before it was set to expire.

    Cracked the puzzle?!! I'm sorry, but this is just stupid. There was no puzzle. The supplementary document provided by Goldman provides a precise specification for how the files are encoded. The only thing an interested person had to do is just apply that specification to a decoding task. Happy for the grad student, though, who has probably doubled his income this year.

  • If you are interested in similar scientific stories I can advise you should have a glance at the link [] Here you will find rules of writing an intro for essays. And also you can read interesting essays.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk