A lightning network payment has been making global rounds on Bitcoin’s secondary layer. The payment, slowly accumulating in value with each passing, is 2.8 ($96) million satoshis strong and still going. Dubbed the Lightning Torch, the payment has changed hands nearly 150 times across 39 countries. Traditionally, participants announce their ownership over Twitter to seek out the next recipient. Hopeful torch bearers respond to the tweets with a lightning network invoice, and after choosing a user to trust, the current holder adds a discretionary amount to the payment’s sum and sends it to the next holder. The experiment has been making an impression on the community; so far, Andreas Antonopoulos has been in on it, and most recently, at the time of this writing, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey even took up the flame from Matt Odell.
Yo @jack , You ready to carry the torch? Send me an invoice for 2860000 sats. #LNtrustchain #bitcoin https://t.co/7BmDBidKR6 — Matt Odell (@matt_odell) February 5, 2019
The phenomenon is an exercise in restraint, trust and altruism that personifies Bitcoin’s complicated relationship between trusted and trusteless operations and parties. In this way, it’s fitting. The remarkable origin of the initiative is equally as unconventional as its carrythrough: it all arose from the curiosity and educationally incentivized agency of an anonymous Twitter personality masquerading as an astronautical feline. Kindling the Fire Hodlonaut, a self-described “hodl enthusiast” who has been “fulltime bitcoin” since the middle of 2018, is represented by a space-suit-clad tomcat. Superimposed in front of a lunar backdrop, the tomcat’s expression and soft smile signal optimism. His suit is stitched with a BTC logo on the shoulder and NO2X (No Segwit 2X) and UASF (user-activated soft fork) acronyms on his right chest. The diehard Bitcoin maximalist has been involved with Bitcoin since early 2013, and he’s racked up a respectable following on Twitter. He’s used this platform to ponder Bitcoin philosophy and evangelize like most of Crypto Twitter. But he’s also used it as a chance to put his ideas into action, most recently with the Lightning Torch initiative. Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, hodlonaut reflected on the experiment. “It’s been interesting to see reactions from some parts of the community. Some scowled at this from the beginning because it was based on community trust,” instead of the same baked-into-the-code trust that inspires mantras like “Don’t trust; verify.” Hodlonaut is more interested in actions than mantras, so he started testing out whether or not you could trust the community to hold itself accountable — if community overwatch could make a trust-dependent act trustless in its own way. The experiment began with a giveaway on Twitter, where hodlonaut said he would send satoshis through the lightning network to anyone who replied to his thread. 250 people replied, and good to his word, hodolonaut said he “brushed up on his typing skills and sent everyone some sats.” This altruism was stoked by the excitement hodlonaut felt when he first bootstrapped his raspberry pi to run lightning. “Transacting with lightning network is the exact same excitement I had with bitcoin when I first discovered it.” He wanted to spread his excitement through the community, so he took the giveaway a little further. On January 19, he made the “spur-of-the-moment” decision to send 100k satoshis ($3.40 USD) to a randomly selected stranger who replied to the new giveaway. “This thing,” as he called the idea behind the experiment, “just fell into my head. I had no ambitions and I just threw it out there.”
Some LN fun.. - I send 100k sats with https://t.co/va7XSnFii0 to the first person I choose to trust that replies to this. - That person adds 10k sats and sends 110k to someone (Either from reply to a new tweet, or this thread) .. and so on How many sats before it breaks? — hodlonaut