back to article Egghead dragged over coals for mining Bitcoin on uni supercomputer

The US National Science Foundation has suspended a researcher for using two university computers to mine Bitcoins. In its biannual report [PDF] to the US Congress, the government agency revealed the misdoing and recommended action: The researcher misused over $150,000 in NSF-supported computer usage at two universities to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Did he get to keep the 20 he "mined"?

  2. i like crisps

    i wouldn't have suspended him...

    ...i would've given him tenure.

  3. frank ly

    That's the NSFBM

    Not Safe For Bitcoin Mining

  4. Crazy Operations Guy

    A fitting punishment

    He should have to do the same number of calculations by hand as the computer did for mining.

  5. phil dude


    if he was any good he would have written a flowery proposal justifying the mathematical work being carried out, and then saying the bitcoin generator was the application to solve it...

    I must say I had a giggle when I saw the value vs electricity measure, which is pretty much what the bit miners themselves say is the in built cost of mining them...


    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: fail....

      "I must say I had a giggle when I saw the value vs electricity measure"

      $150,000 wouldn't have been the cost of the electricity, it will be the wooden dollars the uni assigned to the total cost of buying, building and maintaining the machine (and the lecky) spread over the life of the machine.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: fail....

        Plus the 100-150% overhead the University charges on NSF grants.

        Those $5M/ear soccer coach salaries have to come from somewhere

        1. Marvin the Martian

          Re: overheads

          True that. Though British unis ask the same from ESF / Marie Curie / ERC / ... grants --- but without the sports teams.

        2. Anonymous Blowhard

          Re: fail....

          "$5M/ear" ?

          That's nearly $10M for your average soccer coach!

          1. breakfast

            Re: fail....

            Rugby coaches would probably be cheaper because they typically lose at least part of a lobe at some point...

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: fail....

      "if he was any good he would have written a flowery proposal justifying the mathematical work being carried out, and then saying the bitcoin generator was the application to solve it..."

      ...and demonstrating that wasting computing power contributes to global warming thus doubling his future grants.

  6. PyLETS

    Interesting to know

    What proportion of newly mined bitcoins (and increasingly transaction charges) are using stolen CPU capacity (botnets) and unauthorised use of electricity.

  7. Werner McGoole

    This is academia

    I guess they were just miffed he didn't get any publications out of it.

  8. Rufus McDufus

    If it is anything like the supercomputer I used to manage at a particular UK university, I suspect he was the only one who'd actually figured out how to use the thing.

  9. M7S

    Best operating system for mining Bitcoins

    Would that be Linux Mint?

    1. Britt

      Re: Best operating system for mining Bitcoins

      Obligatory Groan...

  10. h4rm0ny

    What would you need in terms of regular hardware to mine the same in the same period? I'm trying to get a feel for if this supercomputer was equivalent to thousands of dedicated graphics cards or a handful of mid-range cards on a single box. After all, a GPU will crunch through these far, far faster than a CPU would. Unless the super-computer is designed to do the same sort of calculations it could be a tremendously inefficient way to mine.

    Anyone here know much about super-computers?

    1. phil dude


      from what I read bitmining has already moved to ASICs...

      Supercomputers are general purpose machines, that are optimised to solve certain classes of parallel algorithms. If you can make an ASIC for a scientific problem (google ANTON or GRAPE with keyword molecular) and you can get an appreciation of the mathematical problem solved, and the data transport and storage issues. FYI the supercomputers at ORNL (and other places) are chock full of GPUs as well as CPUs. The biggest challenge is cooling!!!

      I was sort of being tongue in cheek above about rewriting the application, but in all seriousness, if you can formulate your problem to exploit the mathematical sweet spot of your computer, you cannot do better!!

      Hence, LINPACK. It might not be the best benchmark for my application interest (molecular dynamics), but it is an objective test that is relevant to a great deal of scientific problems, and one can gauge the machines effectiveness.


  11. jetgraphics

    I can comprehend that an abstract money token holds value for a future trade, but I cannot fathom how generating bitcoins makes any sense.

    Perhaps this is a great joke upon the (m)asses who would seek to "make money" - - than actually produce usable goods and services for trade.

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