The Winklevii Are Going to Space

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One small step for handsome, one giant leap for handsomekind. Photo: Courtesy of Winklevoss Capital

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the former Facebook foils turned Gandhi-quoting Bitcoin enthusiasts, are spending some of their crypto-currency stash on space travel.

The strong-jawlined twins announced today that they're booking trips on Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which allows normal people to pay for the privilege of becoming astronauts. Their trips, which normally cost $250,000 apiece, will be paid for in Bitcoin, naturally. They describe their decision to go to space as "seed capital supporting a new technology that may forever change the way we travel, purchased with a new technology that may forever change the way we transact."

Tyler Winklevoss wrote a blog post explaining their Virgin Galactic purchases, and it is incredible. Among the highlights: the comparison of Bitcoin to the work of Marco Polo, Vasco de Gama, Christopher Columbus, Nicolaus Copernicus, Sir Edmund Hillary, John F. Kennedy, and more!

I think this is my favorite paragraph, though:

For a moment, however, let’s consider a few of the possibilities that might be just around the corner.  Hypothetically, a natural disaster strikes a remote part of the world during a long holiday weekend.  Via the Virgin Galactic platform, emergency responders and volunteers are boots on the ground in less than two hours.  Simultaneously, small payload satellites are launched into space overhead.  These satellites bring not only Internet and data connectivity to the area, but also high definition video feeds and ground penetrating radar that can help facilitate search and rescue efforts.  Financial aid and charitable donations that would normally incur transaction costs and take days to arrive can now be sent instantly and for free via the Bitcoin network.  Potentially, the overall loss of life is reduced, injuries are mitigated and rebuilding efforts are accelerated because two technologies have allowed goodwill and compassion to go to work that much faster.

Yesterday, I compared the Bitcoin faithful to a mid-20th-century cult that predicted that a natural disaster on Earth would be followed by the arrival of a spacecraft that would carry them to safety. I didn't mean the comparison literally, but here we are.