If you've not yet heard about the Bitcoin Origins (BTCO) project on WAX then I highly recommend giving it a look. BTCO is a project with difference, it is built around the concept of documenting the history of the development of Bitcoin (our history) since inception with amazing artwork by the MUTE (https://muteillustration.com/), layered with extremely well thought out puzzles provided by the mysterious GITM.
The series is split into moments each focused on a significant stage of BTC's evolution and, to date, we've so far seen the following:
- 1.) The Whitepaper
- 2.) The Genesis Block
- 3.) The First Transaction
- 4.) Pizza Day
- 5.) Mt. Gox Creation
- 6.) The Silk Road
- 7.) Bitcoin Magazine
- 8.) ?
If you want to learn a little more about the project take a look at my earlier article:
As you may be aware from some of my other pieces there is a long standing puzzle in which we are hunting for the identity of the golden rabbit (perhaps Satoshi themselves?). In this article, however, we're going to depart from the main hunt and look at a recent smaller side puzzle in which we saw the community come together and put on their code breaking hats on to bust open a BTC wallet and distribute the spoils.
The puzzle started of with, as many do, a seemingly innocuous message to the community from GITM (the puzzle setter/golden rabbit) through the telegram/discord channels.
The community (having had a similar challenge in the past) saw an opportunity to address an imbalance in the supply of a recent, freely distributed, combined artwork based on the work from moments 1 to 5. This tapestry piece (below) has become so abundant the perceived value has reduced significantly so, with a call to arms the community set about burning extra copies. I personally burned around 10 but others burned as many as 100+ at a time (shout out to https://nfthive.io/ for making bulk buys/burns easier).
The idea of the burn had actually been shared within the community a few times. A lot of folks had suggested we need to try reduce this supply so, without promise of reward, a lot of us jumped at the opportunity. To date 1555 copies have been burned, a little under 15% of the total supply.
A couple of days passed from the burning before the community heard from GITM again and in doing so the next stage was set and the puzzle began.
To start the puzzle off one of the community who burned a Tapestry (selected at random) was awarded an extremely rare 1/1 NFT. It was a commissioned 'through the looking glass' adaptation of the recently (M7) released Kumiho (left is original, right is 1/1).
In addition to the the NFT the individual receiving the NFT was also contacted directly by GITM with an additional clue "CLIMB".
And so the stage was set, the Rebel Rabbits (BTCO hunters) took to the discord channels and began to search for the solution to the puzzle. The prize for the puzzle was confirmed to be 0.1 BTC (~$4150 at the time of writing) for the hunter, or hunters, whom where able to solve it first.
The Solution & Rewards
Almost immediately after receiving the puzzle pieces (and thanks to the owner of the NFT for sharing the additional clue) the community established that the missing words (signified by two letters around the face of the clock) seemed to be the key to the puzzle on the whole.
- I.) Ra
- II.) Gr
- III.) Fi
- IV.) Ch
- V.) Ca
- VI.) We
- VII.) Fo
- VIII.) Di
- IX.) Ri
- X.) Re
- XI.) No
- ...) ?
In my mind this list and the seemingly 'random' word given by GITM immediately made me think about 12 word mnemonic seed phrases. The core of what we use to generate private/public key pairings in cryptography (such as that used by BTC addresses). Indeed, immediately after checking out the BIP39 wordlist (https://kryptodots.com/wp-content/downloads/bip-0039-English-wordlist-2pag-v2.5.pdf) we found that the 12th word in the list beginning with "Cl" was in fact "Climb" and the first beginning with "Ra" was "Rabbit". If there is one thing these puzzles have taught us all in the past it is that there are very rarely any coincidences.
So with a theory set it was time to test it. Using the numbers on the clock to dictate both the order and the Nth word in the wordlist beginning with each two letter string (e.g. 1st "Ra" word, 2nd "Gr" word, 3rd "Fi" word etc..) we arrived at the following list:
rabbit grace field change cage web food differ rigid deer notice climb
A solution perhaps? Quickly we rushed to test the theory by generating the keys, if this would hold true then the solution would be a seed phrase to unlock a wallet and allow access to the reward. Rather than just putting these into a wallet we can actually test key pairings/generation using the following tool: https://iancoleman.io/bip39/
There you have it, like a brick wall at the end of the road "Invalid mnemonic", this string of words we'd found (using sound reasoning and logic) was not the solution we were looking for. Yet rather than cast out the idea completely we returned to the idea, it firstly to adjust the order and then alternatively to try changing the 12th word. In doing so a number of viable wallets were found but with no funds.
- rabbit grace field change cage web food differ rigid deer notice fox
- blue notice deer rigid differ food web cage change field grace rabbit
- rabbit grace field change cage web food differ rigid deer notice lion
Trying every combination was going to be out of the question. So, looking elsewhere in the image the hunters also spent time trying to decipher if there was any connection with the ordering or word selection based on the clock around the neck of the rabbit the character which appeared to show 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 11, 10.
Finally, through dogged determination one hunter stumbled on a clue that would (within a matter of minutes) unravel the mystery.
Hidden subtly within the image requiring an individual to zoom in considerably to see it was a single word "grape", as we see it begins with "Gr" which (as one of the strings from our list and as part of the BIP39 wordlist) began a frenzy of hunting within the image itself to find any other hidden words until the following were uncovered:
Here is where they were all found, another hunter kindly inverted the colours so that they could more easily be seen.
So these word when put together with the 12th (climb) were the phrase we were looking for and immediately (to avoid the funds being snapped up) one of the hunters entered the phrase into a wallet and accessed the funds to move them to safety:
The decision was then left to the finder and the solver to determine what to do with the funds and, in true BTCO style, there was recognition of the collective contributions and experience. Ultimately, the funds were split among 6 key puzzle solvers (naturally splitting in favour of those who did the most work) and then the finder generously only kept a very small portion for themselves. Personally, I was very lucky to receive 0.017 BTC (~$705 at the time of writing) for my initial contribution to the hunt that set us on the path we took. Though I must admit that the dogged determination of one of our hunters (the solver) was the real champion in all this by sticking with the theory and testing it to its extreme.
I cannot overstate how enjoyable it has been to take part in these hunts with the community over at BTCO. It is very much a mixing pot for ideas where everyone is welcome to get involved and often we all share collectively in the success. There are still a bunch of other clue out there in the cards that will lead the Rebel Rabbits along the next stage of the main journey, toward finding the golden rabbit. Take a look at these snippets below and if you feel like you recognize any of the symbols the drop it in the comments, who knows you could hold the key to solving the next puzzle without knowing it.
Thanks for reading the article, hope you enjoy following the puzzle and if you're interested in getting involved I hope this shows you how rewarding it can be to give it a go. Hopefully see you joining the next chapter of the hunt on the BTCO Discord, good luck y'all!