Blockchain technology is commonly associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Some people think blockchain could end up transforming a number of important industries, from health care to politics.

Whether you’re simply looking to invest in Bitcoin, trade some Ethereum, or are just intrigued about what the heck blockchain actually is, you’ve come to the right place. Anthony WallaceAFP/Getty Images While blockchain technologyisn’t simple when you dig into the nitty-gritty, the basic idea isn’t too hard to follow.

It’s effectively a database that’s validated by a wider community, rather than a central authority. It’s a collection of records that a crowd oversees and maintains, rather than relying on a single entity, like a bank or government, which most likely hosts data on a particular server.Of course, a physical database kept on paper could never be managed by tens of thousands of peers.

That’s where computers, and the internet, come in. Each “block” represents a number of transactional records, and the “chain” componentlinks them all together with a hash function.

As records are created, they are confirmed by a distributed network of computers and paired up with the previous entry in the chain, thereby creating a chain of blocks, or a blockchain. The entire blockchain is retained on this large network of computers, meaning that no one person has control over its history. Read more from…

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