Craig Wright, the Australian computer scientists and self-proclaimed creator of Bitcoin, has landed in a new controversy after tweeting August 28, that miners who can’t mine blocks of 32MB deserve to go bankrupt.
Expectedly, a war of words soon broke out on the microblogging platform with many pointing out that Wright got his math completely wrong when he claimed that even an old 56kbps modem could download 32MB blocks in less than ten minutes. While Wright reiterated his claim is saying there’s nothing wrong with his calculation, it looks like his numbers are way off the mark.
How Long Does a 56 kbps Modem Take to Download 32MB
That’s the most crucial point in this controversy that had many crypto enthusiasts all worked up. A bit of a background first: Wright mentioned in his tweet that miners who are unable even to download blocks of 32MB are just using scaling problems as an excuse to “subsidize” their failure.
“This is capitalism. Scaling is happening in #BCH,” he said, implying that Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is solving the problem.
Twitter user Raul Makes a Point
Harsh, but true — probably that’s how many of Wright’s followers deciphered the intent of the Tweet. But then, a user pointed out that Wright was overestimating the capacity of a 56K modem.
The argument soon escalated to the point that some crypto enthusiasts armed themselves with calculators to figure out how fast a 56kbps modem can download 32MB blocks. Emin Gun Sirer, a Cornell University professor, widely known in the crypto sphere, also got involved.
Per Sirer’s calculations, the old modem in question will take no less than 76 minutes to download said volume of data, eight-times longer than what Wright had suggested. Of course, Sirer didn’t miss out on the opportunity to take a dig at the self-proclaimed Bitcoin creator. He tweeted:
“A certain someone has strong opinions on protocol parameters. He cannot calculate how long a block will take to download. 32MB at 56kbps will take 76 minutes, not 9.5. Get your popcorn ready, as our guy and his sock puppets try to battle it out with “maths.”
While a jibe like that must haven’t gone down too well with Wright, he would probably be pleased to know that even Sirer’s calculation was faulty.
So What’s the Right Answer?
By now, demands had started coming in for a peer review of Sirer’s calculations. Responding to the call, Ripple’s CTO David Schwartz did his calculations to find that it would take 79.89 minutes for a 56kbps dial-up modem to download 32MB of data.
Schwartz also pointed out that because of the taxes imposed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the typical 56kbps modem never actually go beyond a threshold of 53.4 kbps. If that’s factored in too, then the estimated duration goes even higher to roughly 83.94 minutes.
According to Nick Johnson, the core developer of go-Ethereum, errors like this stem from people’s misunderstanding of the relation between byte and bits. He pointed out that contrary to the popular misconception, one byte doesn’t always mean eight bits as this calculation ignores protocol overhead.