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Obviously, the computing power necessary to create the blockchain requires access to fast hashing which requires electricity. Given that local power outages do occur, and this can cause a lack of network availability, does this act as the Achilles heel for Bitcoin?

Is it possible to conduct Bitcoin transactions in the absence of electricity?

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    This is essentially a weakness of things that use electricity, and would apply to ATMs and credit card machines. This is the same as asking if bitcoin is dependent on the internet. Yes, as is much of the modern world. – osmosis Dec 3 '11 at 3:06
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    @osmosis: yes, but I think the point of the question is "does it depend on electricity, as opposite of cash which doesn't?" And the Casacius physical Bitcoins (and similar) are the answer. – o0'. Dec 3 '11 at 14:17
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    Yes, I want to address the criticism that Bitcoin must have electricity and is therefore inferior to, say, gold and paper contracts drawn up against gold. I think that having offline private key trading is one, rather elegant, approach. – Gary Rowe Dec 3 '11 at 18:41
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The network is distributed, so it won't go down everywhere at once.

Locally, on one hand it is similar to debit transactions - they need to get online to be processed. One can use cellphones though, which have their own batteries to run for awhile, so it's not too bad.

Lastly, one can accept transactions offline (using QR codes for example) and later transmit them through the network, but that carries the risk of double spending.

And if you want truly offline transactions with little risk, use things like Casascius physical Bitcoins.

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    Yes, I like the concept of the Casascius physical bitcoin. Simply find a way to secure the private key and then trade using the value it represents offline. – Gary Rowe Dec 2 '11 at 21:42
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    As long as the other party trusts you as the creator of the value representation. If you just print your key QR code and give it to someone they might not trust you not to have a copy of that key somewhere. – ThePiachu Dec 2 '11 at 23:41
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In theory Bitcoin could work without electricity or computers. The difficulty would be (manually) reduced so that calculating the hashes by hand (or mechanical means) was feasible. Transactions would have to propagate on paper by hand. Transaction fees would have to go up enormously. And the whole shebang would work at a medieval snail's pace. I imagine it would be like scribe monks copying and verifying bibles...

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