Tuesday, October 18, 2005


HotBits: Genuine Random Numbers

`HotBits is an Internet resource that brings genuine random numbers, generated by a process fundamentally governed by the inherent uncertainty in the quantum mechanical laws of nature, directly to your computer in a variety of forms. HotBits are generated by timing successive pairs of radioactive decays detected by a Geiger-Müller tube interfaced to a computer. You order up your serving of HotBits by filling out a request form specifying how many random bytes you want and in which format you’d like them delivered. Your request is relayed to the HotBits server, which flashes the random bytes back to you over the Web. Since the HotBits generation hardware produces data at a modest rate (about 30 bytes per second), requests are usually filled from an “inventory” of pre-built HotBits. Once the random bytes are delivered to you, they are immediately discarded–the same data will never be sent to any other user and no records are kept of the data at this or any other site. (Of course, if you’re using the random data for cryptography or other security-related applications, you can’t be certain I’m not squirreling away a copy. But I’m not, really.)’

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