Block chain

Blockchain technology is most simply defined as a decentralized, distributed ledger that records the provenance of a digital asset. By inherent design, the data on a blockchain is unable to be modified, which makes it a legitimate disruptor for industries like payments, cybersecurity and healthcare.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain, sometimes referred to as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), makes the history of any digital asset unalterable and transparent through the use of decentralization and cryptographic hashing.

A simple analogy for understanding blockchain technology is a Google Doc. When we create a document and share it with a group of people, the document is distributed instead of copied or transferred. This creates a decentralized distribution chain that gives everyone access to the document at the same time. No one is locked out awaiting changes from another party, while all modifications to the doc are being recorded in real-time, making changes completely transparent.

Cryptocurrencies: The Beginning of Blockchain's Technological Rise

Blockchain’s most well-known use (and maybe most controversial) is in cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies (or tokens), like Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin, that can be used to buy goods and services.Just like a digital form of cash, crypto can be used to buy everything from your lunch to your next home.

Unlike cash, crypto uses blockchain to act as both a public ledger and an enhanced cryptographic security system, so online transactions are always recorded and secured.

Blockchain consists of three important concepts: blocks, nodes and miners.

Block

Every chain consists of multiple blocks and each block has three basic elements: The data in the block. A 32-bit whole number called a nonce. The hash is a 256-bit number wedded to the nonce. It must start with a huge number of zeroes (i.e., be extremely small). When the first block of a chain is created, a nonce generates the cryptographic hash.

Miners

Miners create new blocks on the chain through a process called mining. In a blockchain every block has its own unique nonce and hash, but also references the hash of the previous block in the chain, so mining a block isn't easy, especially on large chains. Miners use special software to solve the incredibly complex math problem of finding a nonce that generates an accepted hash.

Nodes

One of the most important concepts in blockchain technology is decentralization. No one computer or organization can own the chain. Instead, it is a distributed ledger via the nodes connected to the chain. Nodes can be any kind of electronic device that maintains copies of the blockchain and keeps the network functioning.

  • Blockchain’s security makes theft much harder since each cryptocurrency has its own irrefutable identifiable number that is attached to one owner.
  • Crypto reduces the need for individualized currencies and central banks- With blockchain, crypto can be sent to anywhere and anyone in the world without the need for currency exchanging or without interference from central banks.
  • Cryptocurrencies can make some people rich- Speculators have been driving up the price of crypto, especially Bitcoin, helping some early adopters to become billionaires. Whether this is actually a positive has yet to be seen, as some retractors believe that speculators do not have the long-term benefits of crypto in mind.
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