Google, Facebook, and others are doubling down on crypto

With the interest of these tech giants, it looks like cryptocurrencies are here to stay.

Google, Facebook, and others are doubling down on crypto
Shutterstock
  • Cryptocurrencies have, until recently, seemed to be in a slump.
  • Tech giants including Amazon, Google, Yahoo!, and Facebook are making moves, indicating that cryptocurrencies will soon become a bigger part of their platform.
  • This renewed interest and could cause the price of cryptocurrencies to spike again in the near future.


A lot has changed since everyone we knew began panic-buying cryptocurrencies back in December 2017.

Some people are still holding onto their coins, waiting for the next big wave, but for many, there is no doubt that the initial enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies has long since worn off.

Up until recently, most big tech firms had relatively little involvement in the cryptocurrency industry. But now, it looks like many of them have merely been biding their time.

Over the past year, massive companies, including Facebook, Yahoo!, Google, and even Amazon, have showed increased interest in the potential uses and applications of cryptocurrency.

Facebook is launching its own coin

There have been rumors of Facebook getting involved in cryptocurrency since December 2017, when, at the height of the cryptocurrency wave, David Marcus, the former PayPal president and the head of the two biggest social media messaging platforms, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, joined Coinbase's board.

However, he then stepped down from the role in May 2018, reportedly in order to fully focus on merging cryptocurrencies with Facebook and to avoid a conflict of interest.

Most recently, Reuters reported that Facebook registered a new company called Libra Networks on the 2nd of May in Geneva, Switzerland.

There have been rumors that the project is focused on creating a cryptocurrency that will allow Facebook users to transfer money across borders as well as make online purchases.

Yahoo! recently announced a new exchange

Yahoo! owns 40% of the Japanese crypto exchange, Taotao, which it bought in April 2018 for an estimated 2 billion yen (approximately $19 million USD).

The platform seems to be re-entering the market just on time, following the reignited interest among Japanese cryptocurrency holders.

Reportedly, local Japanese digital asset exchanges have witnessed an increase in new accounts of up to 200%.

Initially, the platform will be open for trading Bitcoin and Ethereum, and it will also be open for margin trading for Litecoin, Ripple, and Bitcoin Cash.

Google launched new crypto-related search tools

With over 3.5 billion daily searches, Google is one of the most widely-used search engines around the world.

The platform is currently working on a way to display digital currencies in a more user-friendly manner by showing relevant information such as top stories and other similar suggested digital currencies when a user makes a search.

Right now, the interface only works for a small number of the most popular virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. However, there are plans to include a much larger range of currencies in the future.

Google has also been combining big data and search algorithms to make information from large blockchains, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, publicly available to users.

Amazon snaps up domain names and begins to file patents

Last year, Amazon registered a number of new crypto-related domains, including AmazonEthereum.com, AmazonCryptocurrency.com, and AmazonCryptocurrencies.com.

While no official statement was released by Amazon regarding the purchase of these domain names, it has understandably raised speculation that Amazon could be preparing to move into the cryptocurrency market.

In fact, a patent was published earlier this month, revealing that Amazon could be looking into using crypto-related systems, including proof of work and Merkle trees.

How will this affect the users of these platforms?

Many in the cryptocurrency community have expressed no surprise at the entry of tech giants into the field. Beni Hakak, CEO of LiquidApps has commented, saying:

Today, tech giants are in control of their user's data because their survival depends on it, it's their core product. They understand that decentralization and blockchain technology will transition ownership of this user data away from themselves and into the hands of the users. In other words, blockchain technology is a direct threat to the status quo.

Fearing for their future, these companies are making strides to harness and morph blockchain technology to fit their own purposes, to afford themselves control again except, this time, it's not possible. Blockchain is an open-source technology which can't be controlled by any single entity. Similarly to when the internet disrupted industries across the board, no one can stop the revolution as long as there are people willing to take up the banner of blockchain. Understandably, given the newness of cryptocurrencies, most major tech companies have held back from implementing it right away.

Since the value of cryptocurrencies has dropped, many users have shied away from them.

However, its adoption by these major platforms could help ignite the already renewed interest in cryptocurrencies. Over the next few months, it is likely that we will witness the crypto market pick up again. This could even cause a spike in the value of cryptocurrencies, which is especially welcome news for those who have held on to their coins!

As Anthony Pomp from Morgan Creek recently posted on Twitter, "there's not a large company in the world who isn't going to join the revolution."

But what exactly does this mean for users? Well, the truth is, no one really knows just yet. However, the adoption of cryptocurrencies by such major platforms has made one thing perfectly clear cryptocurrencies are here to stay.

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Study helps explain why motivation to learn declines with age

Research suggests that aging affects a brain circuit critical for learning and decision-making.

Photo by Reinhart Julian on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

As people age, they often lose their motivation to learn new things or engage in everyday activities. In a study of mice, MIT neuroscientists have now identified a brain circuit that is critical for maintaining this kind of motivation.

Keep reading Show less

End gerrymandering? Here’s a radical solution

Why not just divide the United States in slices of equal population?

The contiguous U.S., horizontally divided into deciles (ten bands of equal population).

Image: u/curiouskip, reproduced with kind permission.
Strange Maps
  • Slicing up the country in 10 strips of equal population produces two bizarre maps.
  • Seattle is the biggest city in the emptiest longitudinal band, San Antonio rules the largest north-south slice.
  • Curiously, six cities are the 'capitals' of both their horizontal and vertical deciles.
Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Scientists discover why fish evolved limbs and left water

Researchers find a key clue to the evolution of bony fish and tetrapods.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast