There's been a lot of hype and controversy about Bitcoin. Exchanges have bloomed, been taken down, been hacked and evolved. Regulators are running this way and that. The tech and mainstream media has jumped on board, variously predicting crash and burn or
a transformed digital currency future. And there have been a bunch of followers, tweaking the cryptocurrency model and launching their own token schemes, such as Litecoin, Namecoin, Mastercoin, Dogecoin and Peercoin. Currency exchange site
Poleoniex currently lists 141 digital currencies with exchange rates to Bitcoin.
This forum post last updated in January gives a bigger list broken up by acceptance and market size.
Up until now, my favourite alternative has been Dogecoin, purely because it's branding is based on the perpetually perplexed and enthusiastic Shiba Inu dog (Doge) meme that took off around a year ago (see below).
But another newcomer has come up with an interesting, and potentially beneficial, way of mining the currency.
In the Bitcoin model, and most others, miners must make capital investment in high-end computing hardware and pay for the electricity it uses to crack a particular algorithm to solve a block and create value. This has been criticised as a waste of computing
power and electricity. But anyone who got on board early with Bitcoin mining (and was clever about conversion to traditional currency) would point to their bank balance to counter that.
A new cryptocurrency, CureCoin, has decided that the processing power should be doing some additional real-world good as well as churning out currency. It has linked with
Stanford University's Folding@home Program, which allows users to simulate protein behavior on their computers and provides data back to Stanford that helps the scientific community advance in medical research.
There's been talk on digital currency forums for a few years about the possibility of taking the Bitcoin model and applying it to the distributed grid computing for science projects that took off in 1999 with the launch of
Seti@home. This initiative uses peoples' computers to analyse signals picked up by radio telescopes to see if they could find patterns indicating signals from intelligent life.
CureCoin officially launched in May this year, and allows people to participate and generate currency using regular computers' CPU and GPU to handle distributed protein folding workload as well as more specialised hardware to handle the securing of the currency
structure (mining). The combined team of folders has already climbed up the rank of FOlding@home contributers faster than any since the Stanford project's inception, thus contributing to medical research as well as their own speculative investment in digital
Other distributed university projects looking to leverage distributed computing are likely taking note. And a SetiCoin, possibly with cute alien branding, is probably not far away, if
this Twitter account is anything to go by.
Blog updated: 27 May 2015 21:04:53