Much Ado? Unusual Bitcoin Hash Causes Stir in Cryptoverse

Unusual Bitcoin Hash Causes a Stir in the Cryptoverse

The cryptocurrency space was alight today with debate over the significance of a seemingly unsual block hash found in newly mined Bitcoin block 528249. The hash, represented by the alphanumerical sequence 00000000000000000021e800c1e8df51b22c1588e5a624bea17e9faa34b2dc4a, caused many to hone in on its improbable leading zeroes as well as the allegedly symbolic “21e800” that follows said zeroes. Conspiracies have abounded accordingly while others have said such a hash is to be expected over time.

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Pass the Hash: Something’s Odd in Bitcoin Country

Only the crypto ecosystem could seemingly get a long, aesthetically jarring block hash trending on Twitter, but that’s precisely what it’s done over the past two days as the debate around the new improbable Bitcoin block hash has reached a fever pitch.

Two hashtags have been burning a hole through Twitter as a result: #00000000000000000021e800c1e8df51b22c1588e5a624bea17e9faa34b2dc4a and #21e800.

A brief search for these tags will send you down a rabbit hole of info, speculation, and conspiracies. For example:

Taking a Heady Look

In general, the hash’s ensuing commentary has coalesced around 1) the mathematical improbability of a block hash being produced with that many leading zeroes in a row, and 2) the “21e800” portion of the hash potentially being a message representing the physics preprint popularly known as “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything” or “E8 Theory.”

Regarding the first suggestion, it does seem improbable that 18 zeros could start a block hash. Such improbability has led many to posit that a quantum computer went live this week, providing the necessary computational power needed to insert a desired sequence. Such theorizing disregards the practical reality that mature quantum computing is still years away from fruition, however. Others wondered if the occurrence was some sort of message from Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, as the hash seemed to mirror the uncanny stream of zeros in the OG cryptocurrency’s genesis block.

On the second point, some also linked the “21e800” sequence that followed the hash’s initial 18 zeros as a reference to the “E8 Theory” or the “Theory of Everything,” a unified field theory proposal — again, a suggestion that a message of literally cosmic importance was being broadcast.

Pundits chose their poison among the many theories that quickly blossomed, but many also spoke up and argued that nothing strange was afoot.

Clearing the Pipe … Erm, Air

Among those saying people were creating a needless fuss was Dogecoin creator Jackson Palmer, who said “No, that’s not Satoshi in your tea leaves” and retweeted a thread by Charlie Noyes, who argued that the odd block hash wasn’t so odd after all.

Specifically, Noyes calculated that the occurrence wasn’t as unlikely as many had been suggesting:

Noyes ultimately concluded that a similar sequence “should have already shown up about 8 times” in Bitcoin’s history.

Ultimately, then, the improbable is not the impossible. Not only that, but the block hash in question isn’t as improbable as it was originally made out to be. Palmer suggested the whole hubbub was likely a marketing stunt for the “people who started spreading the conspiracy theory”:

Hope as we might, there’s still no word from a future, quantum-computing Satoshi — just some emails, forum posts, and a legendary whitepaper from the Ghost of Satoshi Past.

What’s your take? What do you think the most likely explanation for the unusual hash is? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.


Images via Pixabay, Greentech Media

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