If you’re an active member of the Bitcoin community on Twitter or Reddit, you’ve probably been thinking about this code for hours, thinking of how it could have possibly gotten into your life. Some examples of flipping out:
I learned about this tonight. My brain is exploding slowly and severely. #00000000000000000021e800c1e8df51b22c1588e5a624bea17e9faa34b2dc4a
— Zack Voell (@zackvoell) June 21, 2018
#00000000000000000021e800c1e8df51b22c1588e5a624bea17e9faa34b2dc4a has just dosed the best minds of our generation
— OTIS FUNKMEYER (@otisfunkmeyer) June 21, 2018
So my mind is melting. Satoshi may be artificial intelligence. And/or time traveling. Maybe quantum computing now exists. Esoteric and metaphysical meaning has found its way to crypto.@mwilcox @desantis #00000000000000000021e800c1e8df51b22c1588e5a624bea17e9faa34b2dc4a
— Cosmic Giggle (@TheD3vineOne) June 21, 2018
Ok, I'm sufficiently shook. This means the Bible itself is likely literal, and also was only JUST written. #00000000000000000021e800c1e8df51b22c1588e5a624bea17e9faa34b2dc4a
— Guy Incognito (@armor123123) June 21, 2018
Deep breath, guys. We’re here.
Here’s what everyone’s going on about, the most likely explanation behind it, and why it won’t really change the value of your bitcoin.
That code that everyone’s freaking out about is a block hash, a randomly generated code that documents each new block that’s mined via an algorithm and gets added to the blockchain ledger. On Wednesday night, a new block appeared, with the hash of 00000000000000000021e800c1e8df51b22c1588e5a624bea17e9faa34b2dc4a.
Here are the most important elements of that hash, and why it’s important:
If that all got a little complicated, you don’t really need to worry about it. All you need to know is that a very important identifier was created.
Driving the hype was the assumption that these numbers, in this combination, were extremely rare, and, thus, significant.
There have been a few theories floating around. Here are the leading ones, and the logic behind them.
As these theories have bubbled up in threads on Twitter and Reddit, most users are arriving at the conclusion that this is nothing more than a coincidence.
That jives with how cryptography actually works.
“There’s nothing to say about this really, it’s just a joke,” Andrew Miller, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, tells Futurism via email. “The phenomenon of having the block begin with the string 21e8 is not even rare, it should happen about once a year.”
Let’s break that down a little. As Miller writes, “There are 16 possibilities for each of the first 4 (nonzero) digits. The probability that a given block begins with the particular string 21e8 is 1/(16*16*16*16), which is about one in one-hundred thousand. The bitcoin blockchain has over 500,000 blocks.”
So then we end up with this equation: (16 * 16 * 16 * 16) / (24 hours per day * average 6 blocks mined per day)
That means you’d expect a block with the combination of 21e8 about once a year (or once every 455 days, to be exact).
“This isn’t even the first time that it has happened, e.g. it happened in 2009 and many other times too,” Miller points out.
Honestly? Probably nothing. At the time of publication, the price of bitcoin has dropped about $50 per coin in the past 24 hours, which is pretty typical fluctuation.
As Reddit user idlestabilizer wrote, “I guess it’s because price action isn’t that interesting lately and people started to search for new hobbies, like Cryptoesotericism.” We’re not saying they’re right, but we’re definitely not saying they’re wrong, either.