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Russian engineers arrested for trying to mine Bitcoin at a secret nuclear weapons facility

Bitcoin Mining Nuclear Supercomputer

Up until today, I had no idea what the Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov was, or that it happens to be the secret factory in Russia that made the first nuclear bomb of the USSR. But I know that now because some of the engineers working there were arrested after they tried to use the facility’s supercomputer to mine Bitcoin.

These geniuses — and they must be brilliant people to work at this particular Russian nuclear facility, which employs some 20,000 people — thought they could connect a supercomputer capable of performing 1,000 trillion calculations per second to the internet to mine Bitcoin. That’s what led to their capture. Apparently, the computer can’t be connected to the internet, which is a measure intended to prevent attacks from the outside.

“There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining,” the centre’s press service said, according to BBC.

The researchers have been handed over to the FSB and a criminal case has been launched against them, according to officials.

Why did they try to use that particular supercomputer to mine Bitcoins? Well, mining Bitcoin involves solving complex equations using computers that consume plenty of energy in the process. Because so many people have been mining for Bitcoin for years, the cost of entry is pretty high right now. It probably made sense for the geniuses to attempt to mine Bitcoin using the most powerful computer they could find. And you can’t mine cryptocoins without an internet connection.

The practice isn’t unheard of in Russia, BBC says, as one businessman in the region apparently bought two power stations so that he could mine cryptocurrency.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.