Other projects like OmiseGo are now building on top of Ethereum, using this as a parent chain and providing scaling solutions such as Plasma to really push the boundaries of what is currently possible with Ethereum, other such projects like Raiden are also important in the long run as they allow transaction speeds to ramp up, whilst there are a range of other projects to speed up bitcoin exchanges and bitcoin applications such as the lightning network, Ethereum too will be using sharding along with other side chain projects to allow for a much more efficient and expansive system for everyone to participate.
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For years, few residents really grasped how appealing their region was to miners, who mainly did their esoteric calculations quietly tucked away in warehouses and basements. But those days are gone. Over the past two years, and especially during 2017, when the price of a single bitcoin jumped from $1,000 to more than $19,000, the region has taken on the vibe of a boomtown. Across the three rural counties of the Mid-Columbia Basin—Chelan, Douglas and Grant—orchards and farm fields now share the rolling landscape with mines of every size, from industrial-scale facilities to repurposed warehouses to cargo containers and even backyard sheds. Outsiders are so eager to turn the basin’s power into cryptocurrency that this winter, several would-be miners from Asia flew their private jet into the local airport, took a rental car to one of the local dams, and, according to a utility official, politely informed staff at the dam visitors center, “We want to see the dam master because we want to buy some electricity.”
Jump up ^ Iansiti, Marco; Lakhani, Karim R. (January 2017). "The Truth About Blockchain". Harvard Business Review. Harvard University. Retrieved 2017-01-17. The technology at the heart of bitcoin and other virtual currencies, blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.
By mining, you can earn cryptocurrency without having to put down money for it. That said, you certainly don't have to be a miner to own crypto.  You can also buy crypto using fiat currency (USD, EUR, JPY, etc); you can trade it on an exchange like Bitstamp using other crypto (example: Using Ethereum or NEO to buy Bitcoin); you even can earn it by playing video games or by publishing blogposts on platforms that pay its users in crypto. An example of the latter is Steemit, which is kind of like Medium except that users can reward bloggers by paying them in a proprietary cryptocurrency called Steem.  Steem can then be traded elsewhere for Bitcoin. 
Two members of the Silk Road Task Force—a multi-agency federal task force that carried out the U.S. investigation of Silk Road—seized bitcoins for their own use in the course of the investigation.[68] DEA agent Carl Mark Force IV, who attempted to extort Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht ("Dread Pirate Roberts"), pleaded guilty to money laundering, obstruction of justice, and extortion under color of official right, and was sentenced to 6.5 years in federal prison.[68] U.S. Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges pleaded guilty to crimes relating to his diversion of $800,000 worth of bitcoins to his personal account during the investigation, and also separately pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection with another cryptocurrency theft; he was sentenced to nearly eight years in federal prison.[69]
Hey, where’s Bitsane here? I guess you would like to add it to the list, don’t you mind? I am not an expert to state the pros and cons but I can share some personal opinion. You can get confused there sometimes cause me for instance - I can’t get all that rules and f.a.q.s and special info to know that youngsters get on with easily. But what I am relieved with is the rate of low costs of fees for transactions to put your money in and out (for I can’t stand that crazy part of giving a shitty load of money from your own pocket to the user fees god-knows-what-for). And there are also pretty quick to get through, which is suitable in urgent cases that occur currently. So, here is the exchange I strongly recommend to include in the list. Please consider.
The user acknowledges and agrees that, to the fullest extent permitted by any applicable law, the disclaimers of liability contained herein apply to any and all damages or injury whatsoever caused by or related to risks of, use of, or inability to use, ethereum or the Ethereum platform under any cause or action whatsoever of any kind in any jurisdiction, including, without limitation, actions for breach of warranty, breach of contract or tort (including negligence) and that neither Stiftung Ethereum (i.e. Ethereum Foundation) nor Ethereum team shall be liable for any indirect, incidental, special, exemplary or consequential damages, including for loss of profits, goodwill or data that occurs as a result.