Vincent Boland: It’ll take more than Musk’s $1.5bn to demystify bitcoin

Cryptocurrencies have their zealous admirers, including the Tesla chief, but critics insist they have no practical uses and facilitate online fraud and tax evasion

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, said last week the electric-car venture had invested $1.5 billion in bitcoin

Of all the notions to have held human beings in thrall, none is stranger than the idea that base metals can be turned into gold. Alchemy was a tenet of the pre-Enlightenment era, before the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century. The keys to it were said to be hidden in the Bible, in Egyptian hieroglyphics, and in the surviving manuscripts of ancient civilisations. Its adherents included popes and philosophers.

One of its most famous ...