If I want to burn ether, is it safe to send it to 0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000 - safe in the sense that there is provably no way (other than cracking encryption or bruteforce) that this ether could return back into circulation?

There are a few articles out regarding how the black hole address holds some 500m$ worth of ether and tokens, but these articles lack technical depth.

I'm curious to know if there exists any party that knows or could know (by other means than bruteforce) the private key of this address or if the system has been explicitely designed such that such a private key can't be known by anyone or such that transfers from this address are invalid by definition?

If that's not the case - is there a way I can create an ethereum address of which provably no one knows the private key?

  • AFAIK, you should be safe to burn @ 0x0... you're obviously aware of the theoretical possibility that someone could crack that private key. that person would theoretically have the power to drain ANY btc wallet including Satoshi's. – nyusternie Aug 21 '18 at 15:30

As explained in this answer on how Ethereum addresses are generated, an address is basically just a keccak256 hash of a public key.

The entirety of blockchain relies on the on-directionality of hashes, so then the question becomes, is the keccak256 hash uniformly distributed?

This answer says that it is.

What this means is that the odds of guessing the private keys for any two given addresses is the same. So statistically, as long as you pick an address which has never sent any ETH, you should theoretically have the same odds of it being locked away forever.

However, logically speaking, if you're using any address other than the 0x0 address, you're probably better off also making sure they haven't received any ETH too, because it might just be someone's wallet they're holding on to.

For now though, we can be relatively certain that nobody knows the key for the 0x0 address, because if they had they probably would have claimed that sweet ETH. So you're probably best just dumping it there like everyone else.

  • Ok this is useful. This way of address generation means it's not the case that address 0 has been 'generated' - it just exists and no one, including the ethereum developers, have any advantage in finding this key. There is a larger incentive though in finding private key for address 0 than for other addresses.. – matthias_buehlmann Aug 21 '18 at 17:06
  • Yep, you're correct, the higher the balance the bigger the incentive to find it. But there are plenty of addresses with much higher balances than 0x0 (etherscan.io/accounts). But the number of possible addresses is 2^160, so it'd be much more profitable (by several orders of magnitude) to spend your time working and buying lottery tickets, rather than running software that tries to find valuable addresses... but for reference, I don't recommend buying any lottery tickets. – AnAllergyToAnalogy Aug 21 '18 at 17:11

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