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Virtual Gold

‘Virtual gold’ may glitter, but mining it can be really dirty

As the poster child for the growing ranks of computer-generated currencies, bitcoin's recent stratospheric price rises have propelled it from the chat forum-hosted depths of nerddom into the global consciousness. As it rose from under $1,000 to over $19,500 at one point this year, hordes of tech-savvy punters have rushed in to buy, while any investors can now do the same on the US futures markets. Bitcoin has been called virtual gold, in part because it is created in a process that insiders call mining. And like real…