The devs, Ryan Pierce and Andrew Miller, held their latest “Powers of Tau” ceremony last weekend, and notably used the nuclear waste to generate random numbers.
“Powers of Tau is all about generating and safely disposing of cryptographic ‘toxic waste.’ So, what better way to generate entropy than with actual radioactive toxic waste?”
To ensure the event’s privacy, it took place at 3,000 feet above sea level on a small private aircraft in the airspace above Illinois and Wisconsin, wrote Miller on a mailing list when describing the procedure.
Miller said a radioactive graphite moderator acted as the source for low-level gamma and beta radiation. The graphite was sourced from the core of the Chernobyl nuclear facility, which suffered a catastrophic meltdown in 1986. A Geiger tube connected to a number generator converted radioactive pulses into digits, which were then incorporated 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,” Miller said.
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,” according to Miller…