Drawbacks of Bitcoin
Over the last several months, one of the most-requested features for Wolfram|Alpha has been to add information about the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Well, you asked, and we’ve answered: Bitcoin data is here!
For those who need a quick introduction, Bitcoin is a digital currency—that is, a currency that is stored and tracked digitally, without a physical counterpart. Instead of being issued and regulated by a central bank, Bitcoin is produced through a process known as “mining, ” and unlike many other online transactions, bitcoins can be sent and received anonymously, person-to-person. The advantages and drawbacks of Bitcoin have been heavily debated in recent months, but it’s become clear that the popularity of Bitcoin makes it worth tracking.
On the afternoon of January 20, 1 bitcoin was worth $953 USD (which will almost certainly change by the time you read this post); as seen at the bottom of the query, Wolfram|Alpha will also return conversion rates for yen, euros, and yuan. Wolfram|Alpha also displays the peak and minimum values for Bitcoin over the last year; as the chart above shows, Bitcoin has been a rather volatile currency since the start of 2013.
Once you’ve figured out the value of your Bitcoin, what can you do with it? Most likely you’d want to use your Bitcoin to buy something, and an increasing number of retailers (including, recently, Overstock.com) have begun to accept Bitcoin directly as payment. A particularly interesting example is Virgin Galactic, which is accepting Bitcoin to purchase suborbital spaceflight tickets on their upcoming SpaceShipTwo. The cost for one of these flights in US dollars is currently $250, 000. How many bitcoins would this set you back?
The value of Bitcoin has risen dramatically in recent years, as our historical Bitcoin data show. If you wanted to purchase the 263.17 bitcoins necessary for that Virgin Galactic flight—but you could go back in time to January 1, 2011 to do so—how much would it set you back?
Not a bad deal, depending on how much that time machine cost.