This Fall, Every MIT Undergrad Student gets $100 in Bitcoin

This Fall, Every MIT Undergrad Student gets $100 in Bitcoin

Pile of BitCoins Small

Every MIT undergrad student just got $100 richer...now it's $200! Now it's $50...now it's $20...oh God nobody panic!

Need money for ramen? The MIT Bitcoin Club has announced that it will distribute $100 worth of Bitcoin,. to every MIT undergrad student next fall.

Dan Elitzer and Jeremy Rubin are the two students behind the move. Rubin is a sophomore studying Computer Science at MIT, and Elitzer just started an MBA program at MIT's Sloan School of Management. The duo raised over $500,000 for the distribution, with much of the funding, "provided by MIT alumni with significant additional support from within the Bitcoin community."

From the MIT Bitcoin Club release: "Plans for the MIT Bitcoin Project involve a range of activities, including working with professors and researchers across the Institute to study how students use the bitcoin they receive, as well as spurring academic and entrepreneurial activity within the university in this burgeoning field."

There doesn't seem to be any restrictions placed on the Bitcoin going to students. They can hold the currency as an investment, or go buy enough microwave burritos to feed an army.

Between the MIT Bitcoin experiment, and the Dogecoin NASCAR sponsorship, it's an interesting time to be involved with cryptocurrency.

Permalink

I remember hearing about Bitcoin way back when news of The Silk Road hit the web, but one thing that I've never been able to understand is why websites always post images of actual coins with the Bitcoin symbol on them. If it's a cryptocurrency, with no tangible form, then why are there always photos of stacks of coins that look like subway tokens?

FizzyIzze:
If it's a cryptocurrency, with no tangible form, then why are there always photos of stacks of coins that look like subway tokens?

Because human beings are a visual and tactile species. If people can't see it or touch it, they generally will not understand it. So a representative substitute is often helpful to get people's heads to wrap around an intangible concept.

MinionJoe:

Because human beings are a visual and tactile species. If people can't see it or touch it, they generally will not understand it. So a representative substitute is often helpful to get people's heads to wrap around an intangible concept.

Seems counter intuitive. However, my lazy curiosity (and your comment) has prompted me to look up "Bitcoin coin", which led me here. Apparently those are physical coins with actual Bitcoin data embedded inside...somehow. This is all very meta to me. Perhaps a bit too meta.

FizzyIzze:
I remember hearing about Bitcoin way back when news of The Silk Road hit the web, but one thing that I've never been able to understand is why websites always post images of actual coins with the Bitcoin symbol on them. If it's a cryptocurrency, with no tangible form, then why are there always photos of stacks of coins that look like subway tokens?

If they didn't want people to understand it that way, why did they name it bitCOIN if not to make the common person tangibly understand that it's a form of currency, just like coins are?

On the topic of the news itself, if I was given $100 in bitcoin by my university I'll probably just watch and see when it's most valuable and convert into my local currency within the 1st year. My completely uninformed view, without any understanding in the technology or the economics behind, is that I feel it is more likely to depreciate rather than appreciate.

That or make them into real coins like the post above me says and sell it off as a collectable item in 50 years if the whole thing ends up being a flop.

Devin Connors:
Zoop

Many universities have their own kind of food money program for students set up as is, MIT probably being one of them. What exactly would be the point of this?

yamy:

FizzyIzze:
I remember hearing about Bitcoin way back when news of The Silk Road hit the web, but one thing that I've never been able to understand is why websites always post images of actual coins with the Bitcoin symbol on them. If it's a cryptocurrency, with no tangible form, then why are there always photos of stacks of coins that look like subway tokens?

If they didn't want people to understand it that way, why did they name it bitCOIN if not to make the common person understand that it's a form of currency, just like coins are?

I suppose I don't really have an issue with photographs of actual Bitcoin coins, but I do find it interesting that so many websites are using photographs of that particular coin, which was "cracked" in about ten minutes at Defcon in 2013.

Photos of actual coins will have to do until the general public understands the concept, but until then, to me they'll just be a reminder of the weaknesses inherent with currencies that are minted or printed. Is that an oxymoron? I don't think that's accurate in this case. I also find it fascinating how a physical Bitcoin is possibly another type of skeuomorphism[1]. Again, I don't think that's entirely accurate.

I wouldn't mind owning one of those, regardless of whether it's been "cashed in" or not. The guy who minted them was using actual .999 silver "rounds" for one particular Bitcoin denomination. Call it a novelty I guess, but at least the silver ones have an intrinsic value of maybe $21 or $22.

[1] Correction, I meant "another type of skeuomorph"

Waitr would that be like .5 of a bitcoin?

You know I'm sure every Mit grad will be thinking... couldn't you just take a $100 off my tuition... or just you know.. give me $100

yamy:

FizzyIzze:
I remember hearing about Bitcoin way back when news of The Silk Road hit the web, but one thing that I've never been able to understand is why websites always post images of actual coins with the Bitcoin symbol on them. If it's a cryptocurrency, with no tangible form, then why are there always photos of stacks of coins that look like subway tokens?

If they didn't want people to understand it that way, why did they name it bitCOIN if not to make the common person tangibly understand that it's a form of currency, just like coins are?

On the topic of the news itself, if I was given $100 in bitcoin by my university I'll probably just watch and see when it's most valuable and convert into my local currency within the 1st year. My completely uninformed view, without any understanding in the technology or the economics behind, is that I feel it is more likely to depreciate rather than appreciate.

That or make them into real coins like the post above me says and sell it off as a collectable item in 50 years if the whole thing ends up being a flop.

Just a heads up, but I believe a single Bitcoin is worth maybe $461 right now. I think the last time I checked, which was possibly a year ago, a single Bitcoin was at around $300.

I first became aware of Bitcoin back in... 2010, I think. I stumbled across a news article at the time that stated that it had achieved parity with the US Dollar (that is, one dollar was worth one bitcoin)

It sounded odd, but felt like a cool thing to play around with, so I spent 30 bucks and bought myself 30 bitcoins, and fiddled around with mining a bit, back when you didn't need a super computer to do it.

After a few weeks, I stopped running the bitcoin software, and basically forgot about the 30 coins in my wallet, until the following summer, when the value suddenly shot up to TWENTY BUCKS A COIN!

It happened so quickly that I was absolutely sure the market couldn't sustain that kind of increase, so I sold off my 30 coins for something like $500, congratulated myself when, a week or two later, the value plunged back down to about ten dollars a coin, and forgot all about it again until a few months ago, when I found out the value had somehow gotten to $1000 a coin.

Really really wishing I hadn't sold them off when I did now.

On the plus side, the computer I'm using right now to post this was paid for with that initial $30 investment.

EdHaag:
snip

Oh man, that sucks! Still, you did get your money back, and then some.

I was going over the scenario in my mind and came to the conclusion that it would have been worth it if you had sold just two Bitcoins and sat on the rest, simply because the risk of the initial $30 purchase would have been miniscule. I know, I know, hindsight is 20/20, but I'm writing this out only as a reminder to myself as to how to conduct my own business in the future.

FizzyIzze:

MinionJoe:

Because human beings are a visual and tactile species. If people can't see it or touch it, they generally will not understand it. So a representative substitute is often helpful to get people's heads to wrap around an intangible concept.

Seems counter intuitive. However, my lazy curiosity (and your comment) has prompted me to look up "Bitcoin coin", which led me here. Apparently those are physical coins with actual Bitcoin data embedded inside...somehow. This is all very meta to me. Perhaps a bit too meta.

Your bitcoins are stored in a data file on your hard drive. My understanding is that the coins have little RFID units carrying a valid bitcoin code.

Honestly, I'm thinking of getting into bitcoin or some kind of cryptocurrency. Not because I think it will make me any appreciable about of money, but I actually am finding myself with a really keen academic interest in the concept. There's a lot of really hardcore computer science stuff going on there, and I just so happen to have a few old graphics cards lying around.

renegade7:
snip

I did some light digging and found an image of a "used" Bitcoin here. It appears to be just a string that's been printed onto the underside of a security sticker.

The idea of using RFID is interesting though, because what if physical Bitcoins had the string embedded into the chip with some sort of encryption, with an added layer of protection like an individualized Faraday wrapper?

FizzyIzze:

renegade7:
snip

I did some light digging and found an image of a "used" Bitcoin here. It appears to be just a string that's been printed onto the underside of a security sticker.

The idea of using RFID is interesting though, because what if physical Bitcoins had the string embedded into the chip with some sort of encryption, with an added layer of protection like an individualized Faraday wrapper?

You could even create an app for it since RFID is compatible with NFC, from what I read.

FizzyIzze:

Just a heads up, but I believe a single Bitcoin is worth maybe $461 right now. I think the last time I checked, which was possibly a year ago, a single Bitcoin was at around $300.

Wait, if a single Bitcoin is worth $461, how do they give $100 worth of it to students? I'm assuming you can have percentages of a Bitcoin, which is perhaps one downfall of the naming system in that you can't divided physical currency in that way so it may lead to confusion in ignorant people (like me!)

What I've heard is that, like another poster said above me, the value of the Bitcoin is quite volatile at the moment, and from memory various events caused major fluctuation in this pricing, like the closing of Silkroad and the closing of a major Bitcoin broker in China, for example.

But I see you're much more well versed in this whole thing than I am. I have to confess all of my information comes from mainstream newspapers and have no only a faint understanding of the technology and market behind the whole thing.

FizzyIzze:
but one thing that I've never been able to understand is why websites always post images of actual coins with the Bitcoin symbol on them.

the image comes from one guy trying to force actuarial bitcoin coins in UK till he got arrested for money forgery. Of course bitcoins dont work this way, but ever since then escapist has used this image.

yamy:

Wait, if a single Bitcoin is worth $461, how do they give $100 worth of it to students? I'm assuming you can have percentages of a Bitcoin, which is perhaps one downfall of the naming system in that you can't divided physical currency in that way so it may lead to confusion in ignorant people (like me!)

bitcoin numbers are not necesasrely full. you can easily send somone 0.005 bitcoins. Just like you got cents for dollars, except dividiable to any numbers (though i think many services only accept 0.00001 bitcoin and above as transfers).

yamy:

Wait, if a single Bitcoin is worth $461, how do they give $100 worth of it to students? I'm assuming you can have percentages of a Bitcoin, which is perhaps one downfall of the naming system in that you can't divided physical currency in that way so it may lead to confusion in ignorant people (like me!)

The Bitcoin software allows you to subdivide them down to 8 decimal places, although most people don't go down more then 3 or 4. The smallest unit you can send to someone is 0.00000001, which is known as a Satoshi.

EdHaag:

yamy:

Wait, if a single Bitcoin is worth $461, how do they give $100 worth of it to students? I'm assuming you can have percentages of a Bitcoin, which is perhaps one downfall of the naming system in that you can't divided physical currency in that way so it may lead to confusion in ignorant people (like me!)

The Bitcoin software allows you to subdivide them down to 8 decimal places, although most people don't go down more then 3 or 4. The smallest unit you can send to someone is 0.00000001, which is known as a Satoshi.

It's important to note, for everyone else reading this, that ten seconds of work from the bitcoin devs on the bitcoin protocol could make it divisible even further, they just don't because bitcoin protocol changes need to be voluntarily adopted by network participants. So theoretically speaking, when there is a need for it to be smaller, making it smaller is easily accomplished, so easily in fact that it might as well not be a limitation at all.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here