What is Blockchain, and how does it work?

If you have ever come around the word cryptocurrency, then the chances are that you might also have heard a great deal about Blockchain. It is the driving force behind any cryptocurrency out there, essentially Bitcoin. Blockchain is a specific type of database that carries all the permanent data regarding the transactions that are taking place for one particular crypto, their current value/price performance in the crypto market, selling/buying rates, the works, everything.

You can refer to it as a completely digital ledger system that uses cryptographic hashes and small blocks of data for the sake of storing information; hence is impenetrable and can’t be edited through any means. A more specific definition of Blockchain is as follows.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is simply referred to as the distributed ledger technology, and it makes the complete history of any digital asset out there while remaining transparent through and through by bringing in cryptographic hashing and use of decentralization. To understand the concept of a blockchain, you need to take into account a specific file that you have created and worked on for so much time; you continue to add data to it and then share it with a bunch of other colleagues. Now it is essential to understand that you have shared it, not transferred or provided them with a physical copy. This sharing medium is your decentralized technology, and the file itself is the very manifestation of the blockading system that is also known as the blockchain ledger.

The colleagues you have shared this file with can make changes and edit their own, and it will get receded in real-time. Any data that gets transferred around in Blockchain is permanent and is not subjected to change at any given period. This is the best manifestation of what a blockchain system is, but if you want to understand its proper working, then you need to understand the common elements that make up a blockchain system;

Blocks

The Blockchain system of Bitcoin, which is a leading cryptocurrency out there, consists of long chains of data, and every chain is made of a given number of multiple blocks. Following are the elements that every block carries;

  • The data within the block
  • A 32-bit whole number is known as a nonce. This number gets generated randomly when a block is created, which creates the block header hash.
  • The hash is a 256-bit number that is tangled with a nonce and starts with a large number of zeros at the beginning.

When a new chain is created and the first block in it gets verified, the nonce present within the block creates a cryptographic hash. The data that is present within the block gets signed and forever tied to the nonce along with the hash unless it gets mined.

Miners

Miners are the regular people who are in charge of creating new blocks on the chain through a process known as mining. Mining is not an easy process on a relative note because despite creating a hash number and having a nonce for every block, another reference number is created that references the hash of the previous block and every block being tied in a chained fashion. 

For the sake of mining on large chains, immense computing power is required, the type that can only be provided by a housed server system or such. Miners use special software to solve extremely complex math problems that include finding the nonce that can generate an accepted hash. As the nonce is only 32 bits and hash is 256 bits, there are approximately 4 billion different possibilities that need to be mined before the right one can be found, and when the right one is found, the block is once again verified and then added to the chain.

Nodes

Decentralization is one of the most important concepts when it comes to Blockchain technology. No single entity can own or have control of the chains, and these are distributed in the form of a digital ledger with the help of different nodes connecting the entire platform with one and the other. The nodes can be potential systems that mine the data that is then confined into the blocks on a long and linear chain, thus completing the iteration of the blockchain system.

Each and every node has a copy of the entire Blockchain, and the network would have to algorithmically approve any new block that is mined so that the chain can be verified, trusted, and updated. This is how secure the whole decentralized technology is. Every miner is given a unique alphanumeric identification number that does verify the number of transactions they have had so they can be awarded accordingly.

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