A Piece of DNA Contained the Key to 1 Bitcoin and This Guy Cracked the Code


Image: Sander Wuyts
Just five days before a three-year old Bitcoin puzzle was set to expire, a PhD student cracked the code.

By Daniel Oberhaus | MOTHERBOARD

A three-year old Bitcoin mystery came to an end last week after Sander Wuyts, a 26-year old Belgian PhD student at the University of Antwerp, cracked a code that revealed the key to one bitcoin inside a strand of synthetic DNA.

The key—chemicals arranged to represent a string of text—was placed in the DNA as part of the DNA Storage Bitcoin Challenge. The challenge began in 2015 after Nick Goldman, a researcher at the European Bioinformatics Institute, gave a presentation on using DNA to store information at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. During this presentation, Goldman distributed tubes of DNA in which he had encoded the key to a digital wallet containing one bitcoin.

The first person to sequence the DNA and decode the files would be able to claim the bitcoin, which was worth about $200 at the time. Now, that same bitcoin is worth over $10,000.

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