Your WIRED daily briefing. Today, a conservative estimate indicates that bitcoin mining currently consumes as much electricity as Ireland, Mark Zuckerberg will meet with the European Parliament, someone appears to have secretly begun CFC production again and more.
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1. Study: Bitcoin is on course to consume as much energy as Austria by 2019
New research into the energy consumption of bitcoin indicates that, by the end of the year, the cryptocurrency could account for 0.5 per cent of the world’s energy demand: 7.67 gigawatts, roughly the same as that consumed by Austria (Motherboard). Financial economist Alex de Vries’s conservative estimates, based on the energy consumption of the most efficient bitcoin miner available, show that the bitcoin network currently consumes at least 2.55 gigawatts of electricity – as much as Ireland. But the miner network is growing at an extremely fast rate. Bitcoin’s value and the energy required to mine it both change over time, but on March 16, about 60 percent of the bitcoin value produced by a miner was spent on electricity and de Vries anticipates that when the network reaches 7.67 gigawatts, it will hit a point of equilibrium, where miners are only able to break even.
2. Mark Zuckerberg to meet with European Parliament
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will meet with leading members of the European Parliament to discuss data privacy concerns ahead of GDPR coming into force (BBC News). A date has yet to be set for the meeting, but it’s most likely to take place next week. Zuckerberg is also scheduled to meet French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris on May 23 but has thus far rejected demands by Britain’s government to appear before Parliament to give evidence about Facebook’s enabling of the Cambridge Analytica data siphoning scandal.
3. Someone appears to have secretly begun CFC production again
A new paper on an unexpected rise in ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons has shockingly concluded that someone, somewhere has once again begun production of the banned chemicals (Ars Technica). Research carried out by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found the ongoing drop in levels of CFC-11 since its 1987 ban has slowed dramatically, indicating that the gas is once again being produced and released. Speaking to BBC News, leap author Dr Stephen Montzka identified east Asia as the likely source of the emissions, observing that “we are making the measurements from very far away from these regions and I think more specificity is going to come once the people… in that region…look carefully at their measurements and publish their results.”
4. The high-stakes race to stop the trafficking of priceless artefacts
In December 2016, David Hidalgo received a photograph of a 17th-century Peruvian painting (WIRED). The unsigned artwork, of the Virgen de Guadalupe, depicts the Virgin Mary surrounded by apparitions and tells the story of her appearance to Saint Juan Diego near Mexico City in 1531. Hidalgo’s tip-off came via email from a source who had seen the painting on show at the Bowers Museum in California, where it was on loan. Hidalgo’s source suspected that the painting had been stolen.
5. Microsoft’s latest controller is built for gamers with limited mobility
Microsoft’s new Xbox Adaptive controller looks like a DJ mixing console at first glance (Motherboard). Large enough to cover your lap or sit secure on a table thanks to its grippy rubber feet, it’s designed to meet the needs of gamers with a wide range of mobility-limiting conditions. It has a directional pad, the usual Xbox and menu buttons, and a pair of large, domed buttons that can be easily pressed with whatever body part the player users, even if they have very little strength and coordination. The $99 controller is also set up to work with external peripherals for foot control and more.
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