The Lightning Torch is a new concept with the Bitcoin community that is meant to show off the value of the Lightning Network. The technology is still experimental, which had made it difficult to understand how to use. Still, it provides improvements on the payment systems that make it possible to transfer funds around the world without a broker needed.
The Lightning Torch is a way for participants to show exactly how helpful this technology can be in something like a relay race amongst users to increase the use of BTC. The passing of the “torch payment” from one person to the next, adding on 10,000 satoshis with each new participant, which is only about $0.34 right now.
Once adding to the payment, the “torch” is passed on, and users are passing off to people around the world.
This connection between users is being called the “LN Trust Chain.” Anyone who has the torch has to send it on, choosing someone to continue the chain instead of holding onto it themselves. Some developers believe that this experimental software is being reckless in this chain, especially considering that this entire plan could fail if any user or even the software goes awry.
At this point, the experiment looking like it is working as originally projected. A total of 139 people have gotten involved already, which has touched on 37 countries. These numbers have been reported by the “ringleader” of the experiment, a user that goes by the pseudonym Hodlonaut.
There have been a few big names for the bitcoin community that have chosen to participate, like Andreas Antonopoulos. After passing the torch, he posted to Twitter,
“Heretical thought of the day: Playing #LNtrustchain is better than watching the Superbowl.” He also added, “Ok, I lied. Anything is better than watching the Superbowl for this geek.”
Other major names include Anthony Pompliano and Joost Jager. The whole start of this torch was a spontaneous decision by Hodlonaut on January 19th, saying that he would pick someone to pass on 100,000 satoshis. He tweeted, “How many satoshis until it breaks?”
Speaking to CoinDesk, the ringleader said, “The reason I started this was just to have some fun with the lightning network and maybe spread more awareness. I thought it would maybe do five or six hops and then die, without many people noticing.”
However, it is been noticed by people around the world, and it even has its own hashtag now. Users have expressed the meaningfulness of the experiment on Twitter. One user said,
“The #LNTrustChain showed the world: 1. Lightning works and it’s amazing. All of us who’ve used it in a solo context (buying stickers, playing games, etc.) already knew it, but this experiment was the first widespread public demonstration of its power.”
Antonopoulos explained the experiment a little further, eluding that it is not as easy as it looks. He tweeted,
“To be able to ‘play’, your [lightning network] node must be well connected, with enough capacity and well balanced (local vs remote balance). Since a lot of that is not fully automated yet, it poses a challenge for node operators and an opportunity to test their setup. As the amount gets bigger, it is harder and harder to find routes and keep it going.”
That is how the lightning torch is uncovering bugs for correction. Despite being fairly successful so far, there’s still a few times where the chain almost ended. On January 31st, user edward_btc wrote,
“I’ll seize it because I can, and no one can stop me. This is bitcoin.” CEO of Lightning Labs, Elizabeth Stark, replied quickly, saying, “Are you really going to be *that* guy? Seriously?”
Before the user actually sent the torch on, another user started a new torch with a simple note that said, “Is there anyone with some dignity around that that can be trusted with the Lightning Torch?” Another 30 users have moved along another 30 times. Presently, the limit on the torch is 4,390,000, worth about $150 right now.