The developers of anonymous cryptocurrency Zcash used radioactive waste from Chernobyl to ensure the secrecy of their network, CoinDesk reports.
As reported on the ZCash Foundation website, any calculation to create and confirm zero-disclosure evidence (zk-SNARKs) used in ZCash and a number of other anonymous crypto-currencies requires the specification of public parameters. If someone can unravel the algorithm for setting these parameters, he can create his own false evidence.
It is for this reason that ZCash developers conduct so-called Powers of Tau ceremonies, during which the most trusted persons, using complex procedures, set the initial parameters. This time, as an alternative to the generation of random parameters, radioactive waste was used.
According to the developer Andy Miller, the source of low-frequency radiation from gamma and beta particles was graphite, extracted from the reactor core of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The Geiger counter connected to the number generator helped to translate the radiation into numerical values, which were integrated into the code.
The entropy source was a hardware-based random number generator utilizing a Geiger tube and a radioactive source, constructed and programmed by Ryan Pierce. [The graphite emitted very low levels of radiation], falling substantially below all thresholds that might restrict its transportation by air, and posting no health risk.
To ensure the impossibility of interference in the procedure of third parties, it was conducted at an altitude of 900 m above sea level in a private aircraft over the states of Illinois and Wisconsin. Also, developers, as a rule, destroy all computers or, at least, the software used to create the code.
In theory, this procedure allowed developers to get an absolutely random and private code snippet, which they can use to further improve Zcash.