How Many Blocks Are in a Blockchain?

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Block

Nowadays, blockchain is a popular word that creates a different feeling, depending on what side of the divide you stand on.

Hardly can anyone talk about cryptocurrencies without mentioning the blockchain. Therefore, what is the buzz about blockchain?

For beginners, blockchain is a means of recording information or data, making it hard for anyone to change or hack. Blockchain is a computer-generated transaction record replicated and dispersed throughout a connection of computer systems.

The blockchain comprises several blocks, with each block containing several transactions. Once a new contract occurs on the blockchain, each participant record for that transaction or contract is included in the ledger. Normally, a blockchain network comprises many blocks in a consistent state of transfer.

This write-up will elaborate on the blockchain, blocks, and categories.

Without further ado, let us get started.

What is a blockchain block?

In blockchain technology, a block has a similar feature to a chain in a blockchain network. These blocks are comparable to registers that keep track of valid transactions. In most cases, the blocks are encrypted and hashed into a Merkle or hash tree.

Blocks are distinct from each other with specific characteristics. They are the building blocks of a blockchain. Once a block gets completed, it provides space for the preceding block. Uniquely, a block is highly secured such that no one can hack virtually.

Understanding how a block works

For any cryptocurrency, several transactions take place all over the world daily. Therefore, users need to keep a tab on these transactions. Without a block, it is impossible to achieve this feat.

A block has the recent transactions, and the time the block gets completed. Furthermore, as new blocks are added, the old blocks become part of the blockchain.

In addition, a completed block becomes an immutable record of the previous transactions while new blocks are recorded. Therefore, the entire system works in a circle that saves data permanently.

It is understandable if all this sounds abstract. To give context to how a block works, let us look at a real-life scenario.

You can think of a blockchain as your regular bank where you perform financial transactions. The blockchain has similarities to bank transaction records; however, a block can represent a particular transaction confirmed and printed on an ATM after using it.

Each block on the blockchain network becomes a ledger related to how a bank or ATM records your transaction. Nevertheless, the blockchain keeps records of all users' transactions instead of one person.

Although it is equivalent to a bank, the blockchain offers anonymity, which traditional financial establishments lack.

Structure of a blockchain block

As mentioned previously, a blockchain is created when individuals block links to each other. A block comprises several elements or structures. A block structure comprises block identifies, block header, and transactions.

Block Identifier

The block identifiers identify a block’s address, size, and height. It includes the hash and block height.

The hash is what differentiates one block from another. It is generated by passing the block header metadata through the Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA256).

On the other hand, the block height represents the number of blocks mined between the current block and the genesis block (more about this later).

Block Header

Each block in a blockchain has a unique block header. The block headers get hashed several times when using the Proof of Work mechanism to create a different hash for every header.

The block header contains information such as timestamp, version, difficulty target, nonce, Merkle Root, and the previous block hash.

Transaction

Whenever a new block gets added to a blockchain, it is a confirmation or confirmed transaction. After a transaction, the previous one gets confirmed before the initial one gets confirmed again.

On average, a bitcoin block is mined every 10 minutes. The first transaction is called the Generation transaction or coinbase transaction when a transaction occurs.

After the verification process is completed, the transaction gets added to the block and termed a confirmed transaction. Because of security reasons, a transaction must be reconfirmed several times.

An unconfirmed transaction is likely to be reversed.

Types of Blocks

While several platforms seem to speculate that there are numerous blocks in a blockchain, we will explain the three types of blocks. There is not any maximum number of blocks because new blocks are added at every chain. With Bitcoin, on average, every 10 minutes, a new block is added. Let us look at the several types of blocks in a blockchain.

Genesis Block

It represents the first block in a blockchain. Satoshi Nakamoto was the first to mine the genesis block in generating bitcoin.

The block allows newly formed or created blocks to link to the previous block. Through this linkage, the blockchain ensures its immutability.

In addition, the use of technologies like the Merkle tree enabled the linkage of the block history with a specific hash connected to that block.

Irrespective of the change, it ensures that the Merkle root’s verification is correct, canceling all or part of the blockchain’s history. Notwithstanding, it depends on the scenario for this to take place.

While there are additional blocks on top of each block, the genesis block is the foundational block of the blockchain. Therefore, it is common to see it being referred to as Block 0.

The function of the genesis block is critical as it allows network nodes to synchronize correctly. It is only possible for synchronization to take place if both nodes' databases possess a matching genesis block.

This ensures that distributed transaction ledger remains the same for everyone on the blockchain, ensuring security.

Valid Blocks

This represents blocks mined and included in the blockchain. For a block to be valid, the block mined must have the network authorization and report that the block has solved a given cryptographic problem or puzzle.

Once the network reaches a compromise, the block is included in the blockchain before being distributed to all the nodes.

Because of this, each node within the network gets a new block and functions as a point of verification for all blocks. The valid blocks allow all processes and transactions in any cryptocurrency.

Every valid block comprises a series of transactions authenticated with the block. For instance, in the case of bitcoin, each valid block encompasses an average of 2000 transactions.

Therefore, each transaction within the valid block turns into a verified transaction. Each valid block included after this continues the transaction confirmation process. This makes every block and transaction utterly safe on the network.

All valid blocks have a data structure, enabling the information to be verified. The coinbase, nuncio, block transaction data, timestamp, the Merkle Root, and the block’s hash are included in this data structure.

Importantly, all of these are configured so that all data can be confirmed publicly.

Orphan blocks

As the name implies, it is not an integral aspect of the blockchain network. Two miners combining blocks at the same time generate orphan blocks.

However, a hacker with adequate computational power can also create these orphan blocks, especially when such an attacker intends to reverse any transaction.

The network consensus procedure is invoked to determine the blocks added to the chain during this point. Furthermore, it also decides on the block to be orphaned.

Typically, the longest blockchain with the most information and transaction amount is decided, thereby making the security process simple.

For instance, a cybercriminal or hacker plans to hack the network. To achieve this, he starts to mine blocks to receive a reward of 1.25BTC for an individual block.

Concurrently, it generates a fork in the network, which is valuable since it has its own new blocks. This enables the hacker to use the funds he acquired fraudulently.

However, this is what happens when the hacker tries to hack the network. Each mined block is left with nothing more than a coinbase. During the scanning process, the blockchain network will identify the block that is a duplicate and original using the information within the block. It then decides the original block, thereby ruining the hacker’s game.

Peradventure, the hacker possesses over 50% of the mining power. Hhoe might decide to reverse it. However, such power is not necessary to calculate an orphan block. This frequently occurs as the network consensus mechanism makes the block safe from being hacked.

Summary

Blockchain is a multifaceted field as companies are slowly adopting it as one of the harmless means of performing transactions. The blocks are fundamental, making it extremely hard for hackers or cybercriminals to manipulate or hack cryptocurrencies.

Today, numerous central banks are exploring the benefits of blockchain, blocks, and distributed ledger technology. This write-up explored the three categories of blockchain blocks and how they work. It is hard to do without blockchain, as it is the future technology for validating transactions.

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