The screenshot below, taken from the site Blockchain.info, might help you put all this information together at a glance. You are looking at a summary of everything that happened when block #490163 was mined. The nonce that generated the "winning" hash was 731511405. The target hash is shown on top. The term "Relayed by: Antpool" refers to the fact that this particular block was completed by AntPool, one of the more successful mining pools. As you see here, their contribution to the Bitcoin community is that they confirmed 1768 transactions for this block. If you really want to see all 1768 of those transactions for this block, go to this page and scroll down to the heading "Transactions."
While another less aggressive soft fork solution was put forth, the Ethereum community and its founders were placed in a perilous position. If they didn’t retrieve the stolen investor money, confidence in Ethereum could be lost. On the other hand, recovering investor money required actions that went against the core ideals of decentralization and set a dangerous precedent.
By October 2009, the world’s first Bitcoin exchange was established. At the time, $1 was the equivalent of 1,309 Bitcoin. Considering how expensive Bitcoin is today, that was a real steal. Bitcoin traded at a fraction of a penny for quite some time. Things started changing in 2010; as the distribution of Bitcoin increased, the digital currency became inherently more valuable.
Despite the fallout from The DAO hack, Ethereum is moving forward and looking to a bright future. By providing a user-friendly platform that enables people to harness the power of blockchain technology, Ethereum is speeding up the decentralization of the world economy. Decentralized applications have the potential to profoundly disrupt hundreds of industries including finance, real estate, academia, insurance, healthcare and the public sector amongst many others.
But, once again, be warned. Just because it's a digital currency doesn't mean you won't lose real cash money trading in it. And given that the current Bitcoin market is more volatile than a bag of plutonium nitrate, multi-explosive, sound seeking projectiles, you stand a very good chance to lose a lot of money, especially if this is your first foray into day trading. So unless you have cash to burn or you're already a grizzled day trading veteran, you might want to take one more look at mining after all.
But the rate is not expected to be kept: sometime in 2018-2019 Ethereum will be switched from Proof of Work to a new consensus algorithm under development, called Casper that is expected to be more efficient and require less mining subsidy. The exact method of issuance and which function it will serve is an area of active research, but what can be guaranteed now is that (1) the current maximum is considered a ceiling and the new issuance under casper will not exceed it (and is expected to be much less) and (2) whatever method is ultimately picked to issue, it will be a decentralized smart contract that will not give preferential treatment to any particular group of people and whose purpose is to benefit the overall health and security of the network.
The applications on Ethereum are run on its platform-specific cryptographic token, ether. During 2014, Ethereum had launched a pre-sale for ether which had received an overwhelming response. Ether is like a vehicle for moving around on the Ethereum platform, and is sought by mostly developers looking to develop and run applications inside Ethereum. Ether is used broadly for two purposes, it is traded as a digital currency exchange like other cryptocurrencies and is used inside Ethereum to run applications and even to monetize work. The current market cap of ether (ETH) is now more than Ripple and Litecoin although its far behind bitcoin (BTC).
Mining rewards are paid to the miner who discovers a solution to the puzzle first, and the probability that a participant will be the one to discover the solution is equal to the portion of the total mining power on the network. Participants with a small percentage of the mining power stand a very small chance of discovering the next block on their own. For instance, a mining card that one could purchase for a couple thousand dollars would represent less than 0.001% of the network's mining power. With such a small chance at finding the next block, it could be a long time before that miner finds a block, and the difficulty going up makes things even worse. The miner may never recoup their investment. The answer to this problem is mining pools. Mining pools are operated by third parties and coordinate groups of miners. By working together in a pool and sharing the payouts amongst participants, miners can get a steady flow of bitcoin starting the day they activate their miner. Statistics on some of the mining pools can be seen on Blockchain.info.
It really is a great invention originated from Satoshi Nakamoto. This is because it allows digital information to be distributed, but not copied anywhere, keeping security levels high. Any information that is held on a blockchain exists on a shared database. Because the blockchain database is not stored in any single location, it means that all of the records are easily identifiable. It is accessible to anyone on the internet, due to the fact that it is hosted by millions of computers simultaneously.
In 1998, Wei Dai published a description of "b-money", characterized as an anonymous, distributed electronic cash system. Shortly thereafter, Nick Szabo described bit gold. Like bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that would follow it, bit gold (not to be confused with the later gold-based exchange, BitGold) was described as an electronic currency system which required users to complete a proof of work function with solutions being cryptographically put together and published. A currency system based on a reusable proof of work was later created by Hal Finney who followed the work of Dai and Szabo.
Trading Bitcoin comes with statuary warning, sometimes from one’s own instincts — and sometimes — from the governments’ empathetically written circulars. The digital gold has indeed swept a large section of global traders and investors towards its mouth-watering — and risky — volatility. And as with any speculative market, Bitcoin has its shares of ills when it comes to injecting nightmares inside the traders’ mind.
Ethereum addresses are composed of the prefix "0x", a common identifier for hexadecimal, concatenated with the rightmost 20 bytes of the Keccak-256 hash (big endian) of the ECDSA public key. In hexadecimal, 2 digits represents a byte, meaning addresses contain 40 hexadecimal digits. One example is 0xb794F5eA0ba39494cE839613fffBA74279579268, the Poloniex ColdWallet. Contract addresses are in the same format, however they are determined by sender and creation transaction nonce. User accounts are indistinguishable from contract accounts given only an address for each and no blockchain data. Any valid Keccak-256 hash put into the described format is valid, even if it does not correspond to an account with a private key or a contract. This is unlike Bitcoin, which uses base58check to ensure that addresses are properly typed.
Using Ethereum, you can create a contract that will hold a contributor's money until any given date or goal is reached. Depending on the outcome, the funds will either be released to the project owners or safely returned back to the contributors. All of this is possible without requiring a centralized arbitrator, clearinghouse or having to trust anyone.