Things that matter these days ; things that don't matter these days.

Wednesday, 16 October, Year 5 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Here's an imagei to help drive a thousand points home :


I remember a time when those barely visible bumps around August 2012 and February 2013 filled the whole screen with their rollercoaster-y appearance. I remember that time because I was there and saw it, but to anyone looking today they don't matter and could as well have never existed. This will happen again, in the future.

Moving on :

    I. The Bitcoin network is doing EACH SECOND more math than all the science, business and religion of humanity did for its entire history up until about 1600 or so.

This is a point of fact : if you count all the mathematical operations done by each and every Roman bureaucrat of the Empire and all the mathematical operations done by each and every Roman trader both in Republic and Empire, and also all the Greek traders in all history, and also all Indian and Chinese and anything else (excluding the red skins and Africans who couldn't math, except for the Egyptians - which weren't black back when they didn't suck), and all the math done by all the astronomers of the world as well as all the women trying to keep straight how many days has it been and all the men trying to keep track how much the girlfriend is costing and all the others, whatever they were and whatever they were doing, for untold generations over the entire breadth of the many lands here on planet Earth, if you count it ALL you will come down to less than what 2`300`000`000`000 hashes take.

And in this sense, when compared with any one second of Bitcoin network time, the entire history of the world up to about the Renaissance fails to matter. It's a lesser thing, you may argue it still has its importance on the grounds of your personal familiarity and emotional investment, but when the counts are counted it comes out short.

    II. Bitcoin is currently doing more math than all other human activities combined any one other human activity.

Here's the current list of the world's supercomputers : Tianhe-2 - 33 TFLOPS ; Titan - 17 TFLOPS ; Sequoia - 17 TFLOPS ; K computer - 10 TFLOPS ; Mira - 8 TFLOPS ; Stampede - 5 TFLOPS ; JUQUEEN - 5 TFLOPS ; Vulcan - 4 TFLOPS ; SuperMUC - 2 TFLOPS ; Tianhe-1A - 2 TFLOPS. It drops off abruptly from there on, and if you add it all up it barely comes to 100 TFLOPSii.

A single hash takes about 5k ALU ops, depending on the exact implementation, which obviously don't convert exactly to FLOPSiii, but proceeding on a very crude FLOPS = ALUops basis then the <100 Tera-FLOPS of the sum of the world's supercomputers doesn't compare too well to the > 10 Peta-ALUops. There'd seem to be a two degrees of magnitude differential in there. Sort of like, Bitcoin cock is an average 8 inches, where the rest of the world cock size combined comes just a shade under 0.08 inches. Talk about a micropenis, and guess where all the girls are.

So, that's what we're talking about there : the one thing that matters in this world, both from a historic as well as from a current affairs perspective is Bitcoin. But by such a long and wide margin it can scarcely be put into words. So :

    Things that matter these days ? Bitcoin. Period. Full stop. Just Bitcoin.
    Things that don't matter these days ? Everything else. Period. Full stop. I don't care how that makes your butt hurt.

You probably know all this already. Good for you. What you probably don't know already is that a good chunk of the recent hashpower coming online is actually a taxpayer funded adventure. A good chunk of the recent hashpower is split roughly evenly between the Chinese and the US government. There might be a third player in there but I can't discern. I can't tell which of the two is actually ahead, it seems to oscillate on a three week period. But in either case, the race is on : the governments are mining, boys and girls.iv

Inception ?

  1. The "dead" period between July 2009 and January 2011 has been simply excised. "Nothing" happened during that interval, right ? Let me further accentuate this point :


    You will be simply excised from the histogram, because you did "nothing". Is this clear ? []

  2. dexX7 mircea_popescu: your units are off.. all those super computers are messured in petaflop/s, not terraflop/s
    mircea_popescu 33,862.7
    dexX7 Tianhe-2 - 33 TFLOPS
    mircea_popescu hah. people using fucking commas the wrong way

    The point remains, if somewhat weakened, given that no single project actually uses the entire available computation space. Besides, give it a coupla weeks. []

  3. FLOPS stands for floating point operations. Bitcoin uses sha-256 hashing and other integer-only operations. As strange as this seems, whether math is integer vs fractional makes a large difference to computers. They're third graders I guess. []
  4. The good news, of course, is that they've started about at the same time, which means we have cleared the ONLY roadblock Bitcoin ever seriously had in its path. We're done here, we've won. []
Category: Bitcoin
Comments feed : RSS 2.0. Leave your own comment below, or send a trackback.

17 Responses

  1. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 16 October 2013

    One hour later :

    {gribble} Current Blocks: 264093 | Current Difficulty: 1.8928124928103292E8 | Next Difficulty At Block: 264095 | Next Difficulty In: 2 blocks | Next Difficulty In About: 11 minutes and 42 seconds | Next Difficulty Estimate: 267614155.975 | Estimated Percent Change: 41.3844
    {pankkake} not even 42!
    {mircea_popescu} lmao
    {mircea_popescu} epic. how the fuck does that go
    {mircea_popescu} !b 5
    {assbot} Last 5 lines bashed and pending review. (
    {pankkake} oh, nice feature
    {mircea_popescu} #bitcoin-assets, leading the way in irc innovation.
    {mircea_popescu} we got bots to do everything.
    * rdponticelli has quit (Remote host closed the connection)
    {turbo_ac100_} mircea_popescu, is there evidence that the chinese and /or the US are mining?
    {assbot} [HAVELOCK] [AM1] 12 @ 0.582 = 6.984 BTC [-]
    {turbo_ac100_} besides "Estimated Percent Change: 41.3844" :P
    {assbot} [HAVELOCK] [AM100] 80 @ 0.0056 = 0.448 BTC [-]
    {mircea_popescu} yeah. not public, but there is.
    {pankkake} RIP mining
    {mircea_popescu} Scrat what about that block ?
    {Scrat} new diff - 267.7 M
    {mircea_popescu} a a. yea
    {mircea_popescu} 267.6 estimate earlier proves correct :D

    Up not even 42% these last not-even-two-weeks.

  2. Lol the blue line on the graph starts with your involvement in Bitcoin.


  3. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 16 October 2013



  5. You propose that government mining is a good thing. Yet, aren't they the ones who both have the resources to execute a 51% attack, and they wouldn't care that they are thereby making BTC worthless (if that was the point of the attack).

    Am i missing something? Isn't gov. mining a threat at this still early stage when you could buy 51% mining power for $25m USD (ok, $50m for government inefficiency).

  6. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 17 October 2013

    The thing is, there's two of them.

    You see, there's no keeping anyone away from Bitcoin, no matter who they are. That's the essence of open, if they want to be part of it they'll be part of it.

    The only thing was to have it so that we go from 0 governments to 2+ governments in one fell swoop. Any interval spent in the 1 government mode would have pretty much killed the entire thing (the old "giant and chair" problem discussed usually re supermarkets). Just as long as it's not caught in that particular bad spot Bitcoin can balance just fine.

  7. I still see new bitcoiners coming in and asking, "How do I make money mining?"

    The very best of them (in terms of ignorance/persistence) ignore math.

  8. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 17 October 2013

    It is a feature of the crowd to always want to be making money at the thing that long ago stopped being a moneymaker, and to have fun at the party that long ago closed down and to hear the sea in a long dead seashell.

  9. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 21 March 2014

    Here's a fun fact to think about : while network difficulty at the time this article was written struggled to touch 300 million, it sits comfortably over 4 billion currently.

    This means a 15x increase in all points of this article. Such as for instance if but six months ago we disputed whether it's "II. Bitcoin is currently doing more math than all other human activities combined." or "II. Bitcoin is currently doing more math than any one other human activity.", there's no further contest today. Because time cures all, and that goes doubly so in Bitcoin.

    Or 15x so.

  1. [...] been building stuff, the smartest people alive today got together and worked together at the greatest thing in the history of humanity to date, bar none. And you expect to fit this within your head in an hour, or a day ? Count your blessings [...]

  2. [...] And it’s precisely why, even as I sit here in a sprawling private apartment in the heart of Old Montreal, ready to tap into a city alive with Grand Prix fever, nothing else in the world matters. [...]

  3. [...] Things that matter these days ; things that don’t matter these days, back in October 2013 : But in either case, the race is on : the governments are mining, boys and [...]

  4. [...] anything, software is migrating from servers to desktops - decentralization is a very powerful and very visible trend. Licenses won't matter in the future, of course, but for the same fundamental "fuck you" reasons [...]

  5. [...] they activated a group that they had been grooming for a little while to take the public face of NSA's own mining network, and anyone who may be inclined to listen is now regaled with a promise empty of implementation [...]

  6. [...] hard to break, using something like hashcat's hybrid algorithms. With the advent of Bitcoin and the exponential increase in worldwide hashing power it has driven, it should come as no surprise that Bongard managed to retrieve the emails out of [...]

  7. [...] of calling the barn you inhabit by that improper name. And let's not get into how much electricity my money burns [...]

  8. [...] in which case it is not important in which case let some monkey do it. The ur example of this is Bitcoin, with its very strict energy profilev, but every bit of human activity worth the name works on [...]

Add your cents! »
    If this is your first comment, it will wait to be approved. This usually takes a few hours. Subsequent comments are not delayed.