Back at it with some nerdy info on the blockchain technology, we’re talking about BLOCKS.
A lot of people aren’t aware of the fact that there are different kinds of blocks in the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. So, we’re breaking them down for you into… b l o c k s
Before we start, I want you to understand what blocks are. To simply put it, a lot of transactions happen on the blockchain, therefore maintaining a record of the transactions can help users track what was paid to and by whom. The transactions executed during a given period of time are recorded into a file called block. (Investopedia)
Let’s us look at this simple analogy to further clear things for you.
Let’s get started…
Blockchain and banking are quite similar. So when you got to an ATM machine to withdraw your cash, you get a receipt of the transaction that has been made, It serves as a proof of the transaction and gives you a confirmation as well. Hence, the receipt that the ATM machine prints out after you’re done withdrawing money is the “block” on a blockchain.
So there’s not one block, a blockchain consists of more. They all serve a different purpose and have their differences. There are:
- Orphan blocks
- Stale blocks
- Uncle blocks
- Genesis blocks
To start off, we have Orphan blocks. They are commonly associated with bitcoin and it’s the one which meets all the requirements needed in order to be added to the blockchain but is however rejected.
An Orphan block occurs when two miners produce a similar block at the same time. It takes time for a block to be mined because blocks are supposed to be constructed across all networks to ensure validity. So while that block is being propagated across the network, it is in inactive. During that time another miner could produce a block at a similar time and this causes a temporary split between the network.
You can’t keep both the blocks so the blockchain saves the one that has greater proof-of-work. How do we know that? Well, that’s determined by the amount of energy that is used when creating the block. The greater the amount of energy, greater the proof-of-work.
The block with smaller proof-of-work is then discarded and is referred to as the “Orphan block”
Stale blocks are the ones that need to be discarded by a miner when another block has successfully been validated by the network. A lot of miners are working to solve the mathematical solution and its common that someone else might beat you to it. Therefore, the miner should stop working on their old block and restart the process all over again.
Uncle blocks are similar to Orphan blocks but they are commonly associated with the Ethereum protocol. Uncle blocks are still blocks that were constructed and rejected by the network. However, the only slight difference is that in uncle blocks, miners are rewarded for producing an uncle block, unlike Orphan blocks where the miner gets nothing. They are rewarded 2.625 Ethers.
There are two reasons why miners get rewarded for this behavior:
- It promotes greater decentralization of mining. It encourages more people to mine even if their block is not included on the main chain.
- It improves the overall security because a larger amount of work is done
The last one we have is Genesis block. Ironically the last but not the least, it’s the very first block in any blockchain-based protocol. It is the basic block that holds the foundation of every blockchain. The entire blockchain is built on top of this one.
The genesis block for bitcoin contains a message from Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator, it says;
“The Times 03-Jan-2009 Chancellor on brink of the second bailout for banks”. It’s a fitting message for the genesis block of Bitcoin.