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🥚 The Block is an Egg

Michael Dean
Michael Dean
3 min read

The Latest Sketch

I've been working on a visual language to explain blockchain. I'm not there yet, but the sketch below (2 down) shows the farthest I've gotten. In the end, I'd like for it to have descriptive text, and maybe I'll even mint it as an NFT. The goal is for a single image to explain how a blockchain works. (Something simple enough for my mother-in-law to understand.)

Midway through, I was inspired by John Hejduk, specifically, his book Vladivostock. He's an architect, but also an artist interested in the symbolic power of built things. In this drawing below, each little sketch represents a person playing a role in society.

My thinking was to apply this to a blockchain. One of my sketches even has a Rancor in it. But it all became simplified when my wife looked at my sketch, and asked "why are there a bunch of spermies?" Eureka!

The Egg and Sperm Metaphor

This metaphor is still uncooked, and might even be completely wrong. BUT, there are a lot of ways in which a blockchain can be understood through our reproductive systems.

The Egg

Bitcoin has its period every 10 minutes. It's digital and there's no blood, so it's not extremely inconvenient. All unconfirmed transactions sit in something called a "memory pool," until it's time to form a new egg. Each transaction is like a strand of DNA that goes into shaping the new egg. The fact that it's cyclical, predictable, and periodic, means we can think of each block as an egg.

The Sperm

Every time an egg is released, the mining network blows its loads. Millions of miners flood the network, aiming to crack into a little egg that holds the prize of life (freshly minted BTC). Sound familiar? The egg is encrypted, and the guesswork to crack the egg is so hard, that only one miner is able to do it.

Role Reversal

Here's where Bitcoin's reproductive system differs from ours. In our case, all of the sperm that don't crack the egg die out. This isn't the case in Bitcoin. In a blockchain, the winning sperm takes the DNA from the egg, and distributes it amongst its buddies.

The role of the egg and sperm are REVERSED when it comes to the act of reproduction. Instead of the sperm impregnating the one egg, the one egg impregnates ALL of the competing sperm. In order for a miner to compete for the next egg, it has to carry the full lineage of children from past eggs (blocks).

This act of reverse reproduction is why a blockchain works. The act of replicating transaction DNA across every sperm that chases eggs is a way to replace a centralized government with an army of horny (greedy) miners.

Processes Sketches



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