Bitcoin mining, our own Simon Rockman wrote last January, “is essentially a brute-force attack on the generating algorithm”.
“Bitcoin, and all the other alt-coins, is training a skillset for building password-cracking hardware that is both powerful and portable,” he wrote.
It looks like cryptocurrencies are also helping to spot some useful prime numbers, according to the folks behind Riecoin.
Riecoin is a fork of Bitcoin and offers the chance for distributed or standalone mining. Participating in currency's gestation also has a by-product of highly-verified prime sextuplets. As the Riecoin folk note, there's a US$1million prize up for grabs for anyone who can prove The Riemann Hypothesis' suggestion that prime numbers occur in some sort of pattern.
As prime numbers are rather handy when encrypting data, there's some value in knowing more about them. Detail-oriented Reg readers will, by now, have noted that “Riecoin” and “Riemann Hypothesis” are rather similar: that's no accident, as the currency is named in homage to the mathematician.
Riecoin claims that its cluster of distributed coiners have, during November, twice broken the world record for creating a prime sextuplet, a collection of six prime numbers packed together as tightly as possible.
On November 17 the Riecoin swarm cranked out a sextuplet in 70 minutes. A week later, it beat that record and produced longer primes while doing so. There's more detail about Riecoin and the maths behind it in this FAQ.
Riecoin's also a cryptocurrency and is traded on several exchanges, at a value of about 0.0000175 bitcoin. ®