Blockchain without Bitcoin? Are you high?!

Once cannabis became more acceptable as a drug, and the potential health benefits were more widely discussed, markets jumped on the hype. As the substance still wasn’t legal in many countries, companies worked around this by offering CBD products globally…

“All the medicinal benefits, without the negative side effects!”

Before you knew it, every health food shop had a section peddling an array of CBD products that seemingly solved everything.

Need to stay clean? We’ve got CBD soap.

Need ‘healthy’ candy? We’ve got CBD sweets.

Pills, oils, energy drinks, cream, incense, spray, toothpaste – you get the idea – CBD makes everything better. Apparently.

Of course, the truth is, “CBD” isn’t the solution to everything. Without it being part of the full, cannabis plant package, it’s not too much use to anyone in most forms. It’s not magic, and it’s not going to make every aspect of your life better… a little bit like “Blockchain”.

“I’m not sold on Bitcoin, but blockchain technology is the future!”

We’re sure you’ve heard something similar to this before, right? Bitcoin is so, so, but blockchain?! “That’s the future man!”. And so the blockchain companies and miracle products began launching. From social platforms, to insurance, food tracking, real estate, and everything in-between… “Blockchain fixes this!”.

A quick Google search of blockchain brings up an array of recent investments into “Blockchain Technology”, in a whole heap of industries. It is the future, after all… or is it? Yes and no.

What is the Bitcoin Blockchain?

The Bitcoin blockchain is a ledger that anyone can view if they download the software and abide by the agreed-upon network rules. You can also view the blockchain via a third party (although you are “trusting”, rather than “verifying”, that the ledger is correct in this case).

This ledger is a record of all transactions made on the Bitcoin network. All transactions that are sent on the network are included in blocks of data. These are verified and chained together (hence the name).

A finite number of transactions fit within each block. Whenever a new block is created, it includes a hash from the previous block. Cryptographically linking them to each other, and every previous block before. This leads all the way back to the genesis block (the first mined block).

Why all these blocks and hashes? There are two main reasons…

  1. Security – As each block is linked to the previous, a “bad actor” or hacker would have to expend a huge amount of energy and monetary power to modify or undo transactions. To modify one block, all subsequent blocks that came after the transaction was included in a block would need to be re-written. This makes the process very difficult and costly.
  2. Decentralisation/Verifiability – The blocks storing these transactions are limited in space. This is because the entire blockchain must be a reasonable size, so anyone can download the entire history of blocks and verify their contents using their own node. This is one of the primary reasons Bitcoin has been able to remain accessible to anyone with a connection to the internet.

In summary…

  • The Bitcoin Blockchain consists of blocks of data that contain all the transactions previously made on the network. If you send any Bitcoin on the main chain, it will be included in one of these blocks.
  • New blocks are generated every 10 minutes on average, and have a size limit.
  • Each block is connected to the previous block by a hash – this makes it harder to change the contents of previous blocks.
  • The Blockchain is designed so that it’s easily verifiable with basic hardware. Thereby encouraging decentralisation, as thousands of people globally can “confirm” payments on the network and follow an agreed set of rules. The Raspberry Pi mini computer is a popular, cost effective option, and is often used alongside an SSD drive.
  • The blockchain was designed to create an immutable ledger where the contents can be stored and verified in a distributed fashion. This also makes it the wrong tool for many other data storage tasks, due to its somewhat slow and cumbersome nature.

Make sense?!

Once you understand that the “Blockchain” part of Bitcoin, while transformative to the world, is a public ledger specifically designed to enable decentralised, uncensored, verifiable settlements… you begin to wonder what else this really can be used for.

Similarly, when the internet was becoming a big deal, many companies tried to create their own – “That internet is bad. Our internet is good”. Of course, their private internet took everything that made the internet so revolutionary, and did the exact opposite.

“Open blockchain bad. Private blockchain good”. Don’t be fooled, especially when it’s backed by unusually slick marketing, often focused around how they can save the world with their new, “transformative technology”, and tokens to boot.

If you want the benefits of “Blockchain”, then look no further than Bitcoin, and if you want the health benefits of CBD? Well… no comment.

Want to really get involved in the wonders of the blockchain? Why not just stack some more sats with FastBitcoins? The ‘blockchain marketers’ may not agree, but we think a monetary revolution is pretty world-changing… blockchain and all!

Not done with “Blockchain Technology” just yet? Jimmy Song has a brilliant article that explains “Why blockchain is hard” in more detail. You can also read our blog about why FastBitcoins is Bitcoin Only as well.

Written by Henry

Content Manager at FastBitcoins. Came to Bitcoin for the sound money... stayed for the memes! When not on Bitcoin Twitter, Henry can be found dancing Argentine Tango or in the gym.


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