Hello, this is James D’Angelo and welcome
to the Bitcoin 101 Blackboard Series. Today, we are going to be looking at the amazing
math of private keys and this is one of the main reasons why it’s absolutely impossible
to hack Bitcoin. For all you technophobes out here, don’t get confuse.
This humongous numbers and this amazing new technology doesn’t mean it’s going to
be difficult to understand. This is remarkably simple math. Very easy to understand and after
watching this video, you’ll be able to explain this phenomenal new technology to your techie
friends. Okay, so let’s get started. We’re going
to have a little bit of fun, okay? This is the website, bitaddress.org, which immediately
creates brand new Bitcoin addresses and private keys. So down here you have your private key
and you have your Bitcoin public address. The beauty of this is you can immediately
create new ones. As fast as you can click, it’ll create new ones. But the real amazing
thing that has to do with what we’re talking about today is that when you generate this
number, and these are really just numbers in sort of a base58 format, these are numbers
that you have never seen before. In fact, you can take this number right here, pop it
into Google and there would be no search results. So every time you generate a new address,
you are generating something that the world has never seen before that the second that
you generate it. Unless you show it to someone, it will never be seen again. So if I erase
them right away, those are numbers that were just for a fleeting second here on Earth and
they will never be seen again. And I know a lot of you right now are going,
“What? I don’t get this.” This is the power of big numbers. And so mostly today,
we’re going to be working with this part. This is the private key and this is the public
key. But remember, all you need in Bitcoin, the
only number you need in Bitcoin is your private key. Your private key can be stuffed into
a simple equation and generate the public key every time. So every time you stuff this
through, Elliptic Curve, SHA256, RIPEMD, it will always generate this number right here.
And the beauty of that is you can’t go backwards. Those equations use clock math which has been
shown forever that it’s impossible to go backwards. So you’ll always be able to generate
this public key from this private key every time, every day. Okay, so let’s just, before
we go, check out some new numbers the world has never seen before. Here’s another one,
here’s another one. Okay, never ever been seen before and unless
someone stuffs this into the blockchain, it’ll never be seen again. How does this work? Well,
let’s take a step back and let’s talk about this.
So here is a Bitcoin private key and this is one I’ve used before so there’s actually
a few cents in there and you can pull the money out. So someone right after watching
this video will probably take that out. But this is, I’ve said before, is just a number
in the base58 format. Alright, and then they do a little bit of Bitcoin coding to add that
5 there to let you know that it’s a private key, etcetera.
Now, this number, this one that we just showed you, is generated by having this number right
here, okay? Ad this is this number in decimal. Numbers were used to. And you can see, this
is hundreds, this is thousands, this is millions, this is billions, trillions, etcetera.
And you can see this is a very, very big number. In fact, these digits here are called “Quindecillions”
and it’s likely, unless you fiddled with Bitcoin, you’ve never heard of a quindecillion,
you’ve never had to deal with quindecillions. In fact, you’ve probably never had to deal
with almost all of these units all the way up here.
So these are all just a, it’s a new range of numbers that we’ve never had to deal
with. I mean the US federal budget’s somewhere over here, right? All of world income, you
know, is somewhere in this area right here, billions and trillions of dollars.
So it’s important to start thinking about how much bigger a quindecillion is from billions
and trillions and quadrillions, etcetera. And one more thing that’s important is that
the same number, the same decimal number you just saw, can also be put in computer format.
In binary format so you can do it in ones and zeroes. So you can generate that same
decimal number from the page before with these binary digits right here.
And some people create there private keys indeed just by flipping a coin where they
say 1 is heads and 0 equals tails and you can create a perfect private key by just flipping
a coin a hundred and sixty times and putting those numbers together.
So if you flip it the first time, you get a heads, you put it there. Second time, you
get a heads, you put it there. Then tail, tail and you just keep putting it order until
you got a hundred and sixty and you can create a perfect private key just by flipping a coin.
And this is indeed how a lot of people do it. You can also do it by rolling dice or
whatever it is that you use to generate random numbers. So now we start getting to the fun
part, right? Bitcoin relies on these private keys to store value and that relies on the
fact that these are numbers that no one’s ever used or seen before and never will see
again or generate again. Okay, so what Bitcoin suggest is that if you
flip a penny a hundred and sixty times, that number that you have generate is a brand new
number. One that has never been seen before on Earth and, unless you show it to someone,
it will never be seen again. Pretty outrageous to start thinking about that. And so what
Bitcoin is saying, you flip a coin 160 times, you put all your ones and zeroes together,
and you end up with something that we can start using for security.
This can be a code for security because no one will generate this again. It sounds completely
preposterous right now, I know. The first time you’re hearing this, this is really
unsettling. I mean, can one number really provide security?
Well, what Bitcoin is suggesting is that, this one number can provide security that
is more secure than banks or more secure than buried treasure. So secure that no hackers,
no combination of hackers, not all the hackers in the world teamed up, will ever be able
to hack this. Huh? What we really need to find out now is how
does this work? Well, what we’re going to do because the human brain is really bad at
visualizing just straight numbers, we’re going to use a metaphor and it’s a really
good metaphor for Bitcoin. We’re going to use this idea of drawers.
So, here’s your drawer. Let’s call this your Bitcoin private key and inside it, you’re
going to put some value. Here we’ve got someone with a little treasure map but you
can put so many different things inside it. In Bitcoins case, we’re just putting Bitcoins
but those Bitcoins can be shaped to prove access to contracts, deeds, patents and so
many other things. So there’s a little power here being able
to put something in these Bitcoin drawers. So now, let’s start with the big question.
If I just gave you one single drawer with no locks, is that security? Well, I think
most people in the world would say, “Ah, no.”
A single drawer, open drawer like that? Is that secured? No, not at all.
But what if I now multiply the number of drawers by 4 and I put my value, my wealth, right
here in drawer number 2. A lot of people would look at this and go, “Well, it’s four
times longer.” But I would still be able to pull out the treasure map or whatever is
inside there in just a few seconds so this isn’t much more secure but some people might
have noticed, well, this set of drawers here is in a house, right? And a house adds some
security. You might have to break in, find the drawers
and riffle to the drawers to find the treasure map. So let’s be fair. Let’s be fair to
Bitcoin because remember Bitcoin is public. Anyone in the world can access it so we really
have to put our drawers in public. So our metaphor is not getting better, it seems to
get worse. If I put some value in this drawer right here,
would anyone on Earth feel that this is security? Putting some value, putting some coins, putting
a thousand dollars in drawer number 2 right here. Would you actually go to work in this
office for the day and then come back in after work and think that your money is still going
to be there? Well, no. That’s not security at all.
What about now? What if we put some money right here in drawer number 61? Would you
go to work here in the beginning of the day and think the money is still going to be there?
No, you wouldn’t but you might start to think that maybe you could go play Frisbee
with these guys over here, your valuable would be safer than if you just left them here on
the grass. Someone is going to have to riffle through
all these drawers to find drawer number 61 and pull your money out of that, okay? And
remember, there’s no locks. These are just open drawers. That’s what Bitcoin is, open
drawers. If you have the private key, you can get the
money out of any of the drawers. So if there’s Bitcoins associated with private key, you
can just yank it out. So there’s no locks. We call it cryptocurrency but it’s not super
crypto. So would you feel safe with this set up? Would
you actually go to work here? Well, you probably wouldn’t.
What about now? Okay, so this is the Boston skyline and behind it are millions and millions
of drawers and we decide that we’re going to stick our $2,000 right here in drawer number
6, 786, 226. Would you now think about maybe going to work for the day and then at the
end of the day going right to your drawer because you know which drawer it is and pulling
your money out? As long as no one saw you, they’d have to
start pilfering all these drawers to get your money. You’re starting to go, “Okay, well
that’s interesting.” But let’s start thinking about the problems here.
My nephews, Zack and Zane, can open 2 drawers per second looking for chewing gum. So if
you told them that you had thousands of dollars that can buy them lots of chewing gum, maybe
they can even open 3 drawers per second. So if folks knew that you’re actually hiding
wealth inside these drawers, we’ll they’d be trying to open them nonstop and it’s
possible that even millions of drawers might not be enough.
So is this secure? Well, we don’t know but it’s starting to get a little interesting
and we’re going to start to have to ask ourselves a question. If we wanted to build
a set of drawers that would provide security, not just okay security but perfect security,
how many drawers would we need to make it safe? Is there a number? Can you come up with
a number of drawers that would make it perfectly safe?
Is 300 billion drawers enough? I think most people are going, “No. 300 billion drawers
isn’t enough.” I mean, there’s 7 billion people on Earth and you know, you can just
randomly pull out a bunch of drawers. Say you had your 2,000 bucks right here in this,
I don’t know, 226 billion drawer whatever numbers, is that safe?
Well, it might be safe for an hour but it’s probably not going to be safe for a year.
I mean, we really have to think about storing value. We really got to think about security.
Well let’s make our problem even tougher because Bitcoin is public right?
It’s accessible by everyone with computers. So for our drawer analogy, we need something
that’s going to make sense. What if hackers had drawer opening drones? These drones could
open thousands of drawers every day. They just fly around and open any drawer in our
system, right? Suddenly 300 billion drawers doesn’t seem
to be enough at all. Let’s make it even tougher because remember Bitcoin can be accessed
by computers and computers do things very fast. So what if each person on Earth had
an app that could control those drones and using that app, each person on Earth could
open 1 billion drawers a day? Is our system safe?
Well, 300 billion, everyone on Earth opening a billion drawers a day, no, our 300 billion
drawer system is not safe. But it leads us back to the question, is there a number of
drawers that would start to provide people with security where they could go to bed at
night knowing that their money would still be there in the morning?
Well, let’s look at the difficulty of that, okay? So let’s think about our drawer system
and imagine all these problems like people actually making drones that would do it and
people had this phone app and they really could open a billion drawers a day? Let’s
look at the crazy numbers of that. 7 billion people on Earth, each with drones
that are opening one billion drawers per day and they’re going to keep this up for 365
days and we’ll just say everyone lives to be a hundred and their drone lives to be a
hundred. So they get a hundred years. That means that all these combine, over the
course of a hundred years, you would be able to dig through 260 x 10^21. That’s 260 sextillion.
Very sexy number. Let’s talk about a sextillion, right?
Sextillion is a pretty big number. Okay, so Wolfram suggest that 260 sextillion is on
the order of the number of grains of sand on Earth. Okay, so the grains of sand on Earth
are in the order of 10^20 and remember this is 260 times 10^21.
So the amount of drawers that all the hackers in the world with their drones and their phones
apps, everybody on Earth equally attacking at the same time would be able to open as
many drawers as there are grains of sand on the Earth. And remember, this isn’t just
the grains of sand you can see, there’s grains of sand under the ocean, grains of
sand under the sand, all the grains of sand on the Earth.
It’s an approximate guess but these are fun number to think about. So if everyone
together can open all these drawers, which just seems impossible. We’d never be able
to come up with a number of drawers that would provide security. Or can we?
What if there are 10^29 drawers on our system? Which is really like a million times as many
drawers as everyone on Earth can open over the course of a hundred years using these
special drones with their phone apps, okay? So literally, everyone together working for
a hundred years would have a one in a million chance of finding a randomly placed $2,000.
Okay, $2,000 for a hundred years? One in a million chance that that’s going to happen?
Well, that’s interesting. What is there were 10^35 drawers?
So all of a sudden there were trillion times as many drawers as everyone could open together.
So instead of one in a million chance over a hundred years, suddenly we went to one in
a trillion over 100 years. So you put your $2,000 in one of the drawers,
all the drones working furiously for a hundred years with that be one in a trillion chance
to find. Let’s raise the number even bigger. Let’s make it 10^38. One in a quadrillion.
And human brains are really bad at calculating odds and some people are going, “Well, one
in a quadrillion. That’s not enough for me.”
So we start to think about numbers like one in a quadrillion. What are the odds of that?
Okay, and it’s pretty difficult for humans to imagine these types of numbers but we need
to realize how low a number that is. But what’s even more incredible is that the numbers that
Bitcoin deals with, this is tiny, okay? So Bitcoin deals with quindecillions and here’s
the sextillion of all the drones, and all the computers, and all the Iphones working
together. Everyone on Earth trying to hack this system. What are the odds that they’re
going to hack one address from Bitcoin in a hundred years? We’re talking odds that
are lower that any odds ever calculated on Earth and to put this into perspective, here
we have a recent powerball odds. And powerball, just recently, had a winning
price of a $149 million and your odds of winning that were one in a hundred and seventy five
million. That’s on the order down here. So trying to hack one address of Bitcoin makes
powerball look like a lock. Makes it look like a sure thing. These numbers are just
so much bigger. So it’s really important to think about
how big numbers can just destroy computers. They make all the world’s computers together
look like a snail. Look like a dead snail or frozen snail, a snail in a glue trap. And
here’s the hacker trying to yell, “Faster, faster.” All the world’s computers together.
Big numbers destroy the hacker and that is why Bitcoins rely heavily on these enormous
numbers. Numbers you have never seen before. So just for fun, let’s compare sort of the
same idea to pirates back in the day. And we like to think that pirates could bury treasure
and that would be safe forever and indeed in many ways it was.
Some pirate treasures are still being found so maybe the original pirate who knew where
it was or the map which had the location on it got destroyed and the pirate couldn’t
get back and find his money and so no one was able to find it.
Now when someone’s building a house, they stumble on some nice, little bounty of treasures.
So these things stayed for hundreds of years even though they were worth lots of money
because someone was burying it underground. So this is what pirates do, right? They have
this nice little gold chest, they dig a few feet down, they stuff the treasure chest in
there and now after killing off this guy and this guy, they can sleep pretty well at night.
But as we’re talking about big numbers and the power of big numbers, let’s start thinking
about the math of this. Remember, the Earth’s surface is not unlimited. It’s absolutely
enormous but it’s not unlimited so there’s going to be a finite number of chest of gold
that you can bury a few feet down under the surface. So we can do the simple math here.
510, 000, 000 km2 which is the Earth’s surface and then we have this chest of gold and to
be fair, they’re kind of small. So let’s say it’s got a 2 foot square footprint.
So the bottom takes up about 2 square feet which is pretty small, right? How many of
these chests of gold could you put on the Earth?
Well, here we go. We transfer kilometers to meter2, multiply it by 1,000,000 so you get
5.1 x 10^14 meter2, multiply by 9, get a round number for about how many square feet there
are on the Earth. We have 4.59 x 10^15 square feet on Earth’s surface.
Okay, so we’re talking about a 2 square foot footprint. So we basically can put half
as many chests of gold and we’d have a chest of gold underneath the ground everywhere on
Earth including the oceans and so what is the number of chest of gold’s you put everywhere
on the Earth? What’s surprisingly small when you think
about these Bitcoin numbers. We can bury 2.3 x 10^15 chests of gold on Earth. Remember
Bitcoin’s in the order of 10^48. Okay so you’d actually have to cube this number
to get the amount of locations that Bitcoin offers.
So, all the possible places. Think about the entire desert covered with chests of gold,
all of New York City, every place you’ve ever been. Every stretch of highway, chests
of gold everywhere and you’d have to cube that, not multiply by 3, but cube it to get
the amount of different locations, places where you can put Bitcoins.
Okay, so it’s pretty safe to think that putting your money into a Bitcoin address
and letting computers hack at it like crazy nonstop is starting to approach the security
of just sticking gold underground in an undisclosed location with no ability for anyone to use
a metal detector to find it. This is real, outrageous security and I know
some of you are starting to think, “Okay, so what if all the computers were programmed
to hack Bitcoin?” Computers are fast. I’ll just make a database of all those numbers,
all the possible addresses, all the quindecillion addresses for Bitcoin and then I’ll just
query my database for which of those have Bitcoins in it.
Okay, so I’ll just make this really big database and then I’ll just pull out all
the money in all the Bitcoin accounts. Well, what’s really crazy is, we’re so used
to thinking of computers as capable of doing everything but computers can’t even touch
this problem. Look at why. All the storage hard drives in the world today,
so all of Google’s storage, all of China’s storage, all the hard drives combined, make
up what’s called a “Zettabyte.” And one yottabyte is bigger than a zettabyte by
a factor of a thousand. To store all the addresses in Bitcoin, you would require hard drives
that are 5 yottabytes2. Okay, so 5 thousand times the current hard
drives on Earth squared. You’d start to wonder if all the iron on the Earth would
even be able to make an enclosure for the drives that you would need.
So say you build those drives, say you really put it together and put those drives together,
there isn’t enough coal and gas to make the electricity to even turn those drives
up okay? This is a problem that makes the world’s
computers look like a snail and this is why Bitcoin uses these big numbers. It makes it
really difficult to conceive of hacking Bitcoin because there’s just not enough computational
power in the known universe all together trying to solve this problem.
Okay, so now that we’re kind of blown away by how these big numbers can make computers
look retarded, can we start to think that the simple, simple math, basically just using
big numbers, right, where are your Bitcoins? Well it’s at this number. I put that number
in, I can pull out those Bitcoins. Can we use this big number math to make a
form of security? Would people actually keep money in a system like this, this new form
of public ledger? Well, it’s already happening and it’s happening in dramatic fashions.
So, keep in mind that Bitcoin is just 5 years old but in numerous, numerous addresses, you
have well more than a million dollars in a single address. So, if you could come up with
that number, if you could just roll the dice and come up with that number, you could pull
out 70 million dollars from this account. And say you messed up and you roll the wrong
number and you came up with this one, well, you could pull out 68 million from this account.
And the list goes on and on and on and on. There’s millions of millions of dollars
waiting to be taken by someone who could hack Bitcoin. Well, it’s kind of proved that
no one’s going to be able to hack it. For 5 years, people have just part money in there.
Remember, you don’t need a password, you don’t need to put your thumb print on, you
don’t need any sort of biometrics. All you need is the number and you can pull out $70,000,000.
So, if you have nothing better to do and you just feel like rolling dice the rest of your
life, you can try but you’re going to need a lot of lives. You’re going to need a gagillion
lives. You’re not going to roll this number and
you’re not going to roll this number. And if I generate a new one and send the money
to it, you’re not going to roll this number or this one. So, you can convert it to binary,
you can convert it to decimal, whatever you want, all format’s accepted, you’re still
not going to roll the numbers. These are numbers you have never seen before.
I can pop it in Google and it’s not going to have any search results. Did not match
any documents. Every time you do this with Bitcoin. Generate a new address, these are
new numbers. Not stored ever anywhere by anybody. Let’s do a search for that one. Did not
matched any results. Same for your private keys, right? Put that over there, you’re
going to come up empty every time you click on bitaddress.org. Every time, even if you
get a computer to do it, every time you’re going to come up empty.
So I’m harping on this. This is the amazingness of big numbers. And some people might go,
“Well, you put stuff in a drawer. What goes inside these Bitcoin addresses?”
Well, really nothing goes in it. It’s really important to realize that Bitcoins don’t
truly exist. They’re just units of accounts on the Bitcoin ledger. They don’t exist
at all so when people talk about intrinsic value on a currency, well, first of all, the
whole idea of intrinsic value starts to look like an oxymoron.
There is no intrinsic value necessary in a currency and we start to realize that when
we look at dollars. There really is no intrinsic value in the paper the dollars. People using
cowry shells for thousands of years over really broad geographic area, there’s no intrinsic
value. The snails themselves, didn’t even want them. They chuck them. They were garbage.
But the cowry shells were uniform, hard to copy and there was a limited amount and that
gave it value. It gave it tradable value. It gave it value in exchange. That’s exactly
what’s going on with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is not a bunch of drawers, it’s
just a ledger. And it’s a ledger that is protected by enormous numbers more than anything
else. It’s the fact that you can generate a number with a coin that no one’s ever
generated before. You can send Bitcoins to that number and no one will ever find that
number, not by accident, not ever. And the beauty of this and one of the reasons
why it is so revolutionary is that it basically allows equal and full access to banking to
anyone who’s got a coin to flip. You can flip a coin a hundred and sixty times; you
can start to get involve in Bitcoin. Better off if you have the internet. Better
off if you have a computer. But you don’t need a lot of access to the internet and a
lot of access to a computer to do this. You can set up your account then you can send
that public address that you’ve generated from your private key to anyone and they can
start to send you money for the products you make.
This is a revolution and it is all a result of big numbers. So I hope you find that this
math is really compelling and really beautiful and a lot of you are going to be very unsettled
by this, you’re not going to feel comfortable with this right away, but over time, over
the next 5-10 years, as people start to move towards blockchain technology, our kids and
others will start to see that this is more secure than putting money in banks Cyprus
and or even money in banks under any government umbrella. You know that your value will be
there the next day. You’re not so sure with anything else.
That’s it for today. Please remember to like, comment, subscribe. You can follow us
at @worldbitcoinnet on twitter or do whatever else it is you do and we’ll check you at
the next video.