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
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  • 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.

A landslide is imminent and so is its tsunami

An open letter predicts that a massive wall of rock is about to plunge into Barry Arm Fjord in Alaska.

Image source: Christian Zimmerman/USGS/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • A remote area visited by tourists and cruises, and home to fishing villages, is about to be visited by a devastating tsunami.
  • A wall of rock exposed by a receding glacier is about crash into the waters below.
  • Glaciers hold such areas together — and when they're gone, bad stuff can be left behind.

The Barry Glacier gives its name to Alaska's Barry Arm Fjord, and a new open letter forecasts trouble ahead.

Thanks to global warming, the glacier has been retreating, so far removing two-thirds of its support for a steep mile-long slope, or scarp, containing perhaps 500 million cubic meters of material. (Think the Hoover Dam times several hundred.) The slope has been moving slowly since 1957, but scientists say it's become an avalanche waiting to happen, maybe within the next year, and likely within 20. When it does come crashing down into the fjord, it could set in motion a frightening tsunami overwhelming the fjord's normally peaceful waters .

"It could happen anytime, but the risk just goes way up as this glacier recedes," says hydrologist Anna Liljedahl of Woods Hole, one of the signatories to the letter.

The Barry Arm Fjord

Camping on the fjord's Black Sand Beach

Image source: Matt Zimmerman

The Barry Arm Fjord is a stretch of water between the Harriman Fjord and the Port Wills Fjord, located at the northwest corner of the well-known Prince William Sound. It's a beautiful area, home to a few hundred people supporting the local fishing industry, and it's also a popular destination for tourists — its Black Sand Beach is one of Alaska's most scenic — and cruise ships.

Not Alaska’s first watery rodeo, but likely the biggest

Image source: whrc.org

There have been at least two similar events in the state's recent history, though not on such a massive scale. On July 9, 1958, an earthquake nearby caused 40 million cubic yards of rock to suddenly slide 2,000 feet down into Lituya Bay, producing a tsunami whose peak waves reportedly reached 1,720 feet in height. By the time the wall of water reached the mouth of the bay, it was still 75 feet high. At Taan Fjord in 2015, a landslide caused a tsunami that crested at 600 feet. Both of these events thankfully occurred in sparsely populated areas, so few fatalities occurred.

The Barry Arm event will be larger than either of these by far.

"This is an enormous slope — the mass that could fail weighs over a billion tonnes," said geologist Dave Petley, speaking to Earther. "The internal structure of that rock mass, which will determine whether it collapses, is very complex. At the moment we don't know enough about it to be able to forecast its future behavior."

Outside of Alaska, on the west coast of Greenland, a landslide-produced tsunami towered 300 feet high, obliterating a fishing village in its path.

What the letter predicts for Barry Arm Fjord

Moving slowly at first...

Image source: whrc.org

"The effects would be especially severe near where the landslide enters the water at the head of Barry Arm. Additionally, areas of shallow water, or low-lying land near the shore, would be in danger even further from the source. A minor failure may not produce significant impacts beyond the inner parts of the fiord, while a complete failure could be destructive throughout Barry Arm, Harriman Fiord, and parts of Port Wells. Our initial results show complex impacts further from the landslide than Barry Arm, with over 30 foot waves in some distant bays, including Whittier."

The discovery of the impeding landslide began with an observation by the sister of geologist Hig Higman of Ground Truth, an organization in Seldovia, Alaska. Artist Valisa Higman was vacationing in the area and sent her brother some photos of worrying fractures she noticed in the slope, taken while she was on a boat cruising the fjord.

Higman confirmed his sister's hunch via available satellite imagery and, digging deeper, found that between 2009 and 2015 the slope had moved 600 feet downhill, leaving a prominent scar.

Ohio State's Chunli Dai unearthed a connection between the movement and the receding of the Barry Glacier. Comparison of the Barry Arm slope with other similar areas, combined with computer modeling of the possible resulting tsunamis, led to the publication of the group's letter.

While the full group of signatories from 14 organizations and institutions has only been working on the situation for a month, the implications were immediately clear. The signers include experts from Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, and the Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses of the University of Alaska.

Once informed of the open letter's contents, the Alaska's Department of Natural Resources immediately released a warning that "an increasingly likely landslide could generate a wave with devastating effects on fishermen and recreationalists."

How do you prepare for something like this?

Image source: whrc.org

The obvious question is what can be done to prepare for the landslide and tsunami? For one thing, there's more to understand about the upcoming event, and the researchers lay out their plan in the letter:

"To inform and refine hazard mitigation efforts, we would like to pursue several lines of investigation: Detect changes in the slope that might forewarn of a landslide, better understand what could trigger a landslide, and refine tsunami model projections. By mapping the landslide and nearby terrain, both above and below sea level, we can more accurately determine the basic physical dimensions of the landslide. This can be paired with GPS and seismic measurements made over time to see how the slope responds to changes in the glacier and to events like rainstorms and earthquakes. Field and satellite data can support near-real time hazard monitoring, while computer models of landslide and tsunami scenarios can help identify specific places that are most at risk."

In the letter, the authors reached out to those living in and visiting the area, asking, "What specific questions are most important to you?" and "What could be done to reduce the danger to people who want to visit or work in Barry Arm?" They also invited locals to let them know about any changes, including even small rock-falls and landslides.

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