It’s a live feed of the Bitcoin miner that the folks at Butterfly Labs shipped us last week. This small black box, which looks like a beefed-up Roku and burns as much energy as a light bulb, was built to do one thing: run hashing algorithms with the hope of winning Bitcoin’s cryptographic lottery.
Bitcoin transactions don’t get logged by a central bank. It takes a peer-to-peer army of miners to watch everything happening on the network and then package that into blocks of transactions. To add an incentive for the people running these computers, the network is programmed to run a kind of lottery every 10 minutes. The winner gets 25 Bitcoins. That’s Bitcoin mining.
The thing is, as more and more miners vie for these 25 Bitcoins, the lottery becomes harder and harder to win.