The lava plain of Reykjanesbaer, Iceland, is located close to the Arctic Circle, and if you are looking for the mines of Bitcoin, this is where you will need to look.
To find them, you will need to walk through a fortified gate and check in with a guard. Once you pass the threshold, you still need to pass through four more security checkpoints including a mantrap that will only allow you to proceed after the door has shut behind you. This will get you to the center of the operation, which is a room inhabited by more than 100 computers. Each one is housed in a locked cabinet. To keep the equipment at precisely the right temperature, the units are kept cool by blasts of Arctic air shot up from vents in the floor.
How does Bitcoin even work? The computers can be likened to workers in mines where the Bitcoins are unearthed. Each custom-made machine runs an open-source Bitcoin program and performs complex algorithms on a 24-hour-a-day basis. If the computers come up with the right answer before its competitors located around the globe do, their reward is a block of 25 new Bitcoins from the virtual currency’s decentralized network. The network is programmed to release 21 million coins. Just over half of the coins have already been released.
Since the system will progressively release Bitcoins at a progressively slower rate, the work done by the computers could take more than a century. Due to the Bitcoins’ scarcity, each new one has grown in value to as much as $1,100.00 over the past few weeks.
Are Bitcoins new? Until a few months ago, most of the mining was done on home computers. Once the value of the invisible money skyrocketed, competition for new coins set off a race for that turned mining into a large-scale effort. Companies mining for Bitcoins want to be up and running, and can’t afford to have any downtime. It’s not practical for them to be operating from home. Setting up off site, where they will not be disturbed makes perfect sense, and what better place to do so than the top of the world?