7 of Bitcoin’s Greatest Unsolved Mysteries

Bitcoin was born shrouded in mystery, the identity of its creator a persistent puzzle. Satoshi’s origins aren’t the only unanswered question hanging over Bitcoin however. Over the years, hacks, hoaxes, and curious on-chain activity have caught the attention of the crypto community. To this day they remain unsolved.

Why Is the Coinbase Reward in the Genesis Block Unspendable?

The coinbase reward for the first bitcoin block went to address 1A1zP1eP5QGefi2DMPTfTL5SLmv7DivfNa. The 50 BTC is unspendable however because Satoshi elected not to add the coinbase transaction to the ledger. There were a few oddities about the first bitcoin block, which contains two hex zeroes more than were required. Was the unspendable coinbase reward an oversight, which there was little point in remedying once discovered, or was Satoshi imparting a greater message in forgoing his reward, demonstrating that the Bitcoin network was about serving the people rather than enriching its founder?

Whatever the case, the genesis address now holds over 68 BTC thanks to bitcoiners “pouring one out” for Satoshi and sending a token offering of their appreciation. Just to add to the intrigue, the genesis block took six days to mine and then Satoshi rested on the seventh, just like the biblical creation event in the book of Genesis. Another easter egg left by Satoshi, or autistic bitcoiners seeing patterns where none exist?

What Happened to the Stolen Mt. Gox Coins?

How do you hide bitcoins on a public ledger? In an era of powerful forensic software that can cluster and correlate transactions, you can’t, and yet to this day, 650,000 BTC exfiltrated from Mt. Gox exchange remain unaccounted for. They’re still in the system, but who controls them, and what they did with them after Gox is a mystery. 

This much we know: in February 2014, Mt. Gox announced the loss of 850,000 BTC and declared bankruptcy. 200,000 of those coins were later located on a hard drive but the whereabouts of the remainder has never publicly been revealed. In a House Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance in 2017, Chainalysis co-founder Jonathan Levin claimed that “the destination of those coins is definitely known,” but his answer can is disingenuous, since knowing the addresses where the coins currently reside is not the same as knowing what happened to them.

It is believed that the coins were broken down and laundered through other exchanges, with Btc-e being accused of liquidating much of them. Who stole them, how, where they cashed out, and what happened next are all unknown, however.

What Really Happened with Silk Road?

Despite the Silk Road case officially being closed, with Ross Ulbricht serving life without parole for running the drugs marketplace, the affair remains shrouded in mystery.

  • How did the feds actually discover the Silk Road server (because no one believes their official story)?
  • Did Ross genuinely resign from running Silk Road and hand control to “Dread Pirate Roberts” as has been claimed?
  • And how many corrupt feds had their tentacles into Silk Road other than the two convicted for extortion? DPR’s right hand man, Variety Jones, claims to have been contacted by another rogue agent who leaked information about the case.

Silk Road is a case that has left more questions than answers, perhaps the greatest of which is this: How the hell did Ross get life for a victimless crime? In a world that wasn’t run by clowns, his likeness would be chiseled into Mount Rushmore.

Why Was There a Poker Client Hidden in Bitcoin’s Pre-Release Code?

Satoshi’s original Bitcoin code includes the vestiges of a virtual poker game that appears to have never been finished. The code for the poker client is annotated with comments like “These are your Bitcoin addresses for receiving payments. You may want to give a different one to each sender so you can keep track of who is paying you.” One of the possible candidates for being Satoshi Nakomoto, Paul Le Roux, “had dabbled in the online gambling business for years and had even built his own casino software,” according to biographer Evan Ratliff. Le Roux is an unlikely Satoshi, however, and thus we are no closer to establishing whether Satoshi was a closet poker hound.

It may simply be the case that Satoshi felt the need to engineer an initial use case for Bitcoin, only to later decide he had enough going on, what with having to create the soundest money the world has ever seen. Early versions of Bitcoin’s code also included an IRC client and a P2P marketplace which never came to fruition either.

Did a Quantum Computer Mine Bitcoin Block Number 528249?

In June 2018, the cryptosphere got itself into a frenzy over bitcoin block 528249, whose hash started with 00000000000000000021e800 – that’s 18 zeros followed by 21e8 and another two zeros. It’s not just the zeros that are significant: so’s the 21e8. 21e8, also referred to as E8, describes a Theory of Everything a.k.a. Unified Field Theory. The website 21e8.com shows a fractal pattern derived from the elementary particle spin that is integral to E8 theory.

Pure coincidence or too spooky? It’s estimated that it would take 2,500 years to create that hash, working at a rate of 1 exahash/second (which represented 2.5% of the BTC network hashrate at the time). For this feat to have occurred deliberately, it would have required a quantum computer or – wait for it – a time traveler exploiting future computer processing advancements. The last time a block hash full of zeroes attracted this much scrutiny was bitcoin’s genesis block which started with no less than 10 of them. Curiouser and curiouser.

What Happened to Gerald Cotten?

The greatest bitcoin mystery of recent times is the fate of QuadrigaCX CEO Gerald Cotten. Officially he died while on honeymoon in India in January 2019. His death certificate confirms this, and given the 30-year-old’s underlying health problems, there is every reason to assume Cotten is dead, were it not for the missing $130 million of customer deposits from a crypto exchange that only he had the keys to. The whole case stinks, and has prompted attempts by creditors to exhume Cotten’s body and lay the demise debate to rest once and for all. 

Where Is Satoshi Nakamoto Now?

That’s the one million BTC question. Best guess is he’s either dead or never existed to begin with.

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