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Blockchain Semantics Blog What is a Genesis Block?

What is a Genesis Block?

By Abhishek Singh | April 6, 2018, 7:59 a.m. GMT

The Genesis Block is also known as Block Zero or Block 0. It is the ancestor that every Blockchain network’s block can trace its origin back to. Remember how every block in a Blockchain is linked back to the previous block using a hash in the block header? You keep going back and you realize every block is hence linked to the genesis block. 

It is literally the first block in the Blockchain. It is probably the founders (like Satoshi Nakamoto for Bitcoin) or (Vitalik Buterin for Ethereum) who must have mine the genesis block themselves. No competition amongst miners or for that matter even miners exist when the genesis block is being mined!

In simpler words, a genesis block is the first block of the Blockchain. It defines initial parameters of the Blockchain like level of difficulty, consensus algorithm etc. to mine blocks. It is the only block in the Blockchain that doesn’t refer to previous block because there isn’t any. It may not even hold any transactions if no tokens are pre-mined before the genesis block. Of course, different Blockchains may differ somewhat on some of these postulates. 

The genesis block differs slightly in the way it is created from a normal block. It is hard-coded into the Blockchain network’s clients for the main network. For the other blocks of course all the clients play a role or participate in the creation of.

Significance of Genesis Block

Two nodes will both connect to the network only if they have the exact same genesis block. It implies that block synchronization will only happen if peers have the same genesis block.

You are probably wondering about the contents of a genesis block. Here is what the genesis block of the Ethereum Blockchain holds.

 

Element

Description

TimeStamp

1438269973(Jul-30-2015 03:26:13 PM +UTC)

 Transactions

8893 transactions and 0 contract internal transactions in this block

Hash

0xd4e56740f876aef8c010b86a40d5f56745a118d0906a34e69aec8c0db1cb8fa3

Parent Hash

0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Sha3Uncles

0x1dcc4de8dec75d7aab85b567b6ccd41ad312451b948a7413f0a142fd40d49347

Mined By

0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000 in 15 secs

Difficulty

17179869184

Gas Used

0

Gas Limit

5,000

Nonce

0x0000000000000042

Block Reward

5 Ether

Uncles Reward

0 Ether

Extra Data

Hex:0x11bbe8db4e347b4e8c937c1c8370e4b5ed33adb3db69cbdb7a38e1e50b1b82fa

 

One last thing to remember about genesis blocks. The fact that a Blockchain has its genesis block created does not necessarily imply that it is off to a great start. There is still typically a lot of work yet to be done around creating a community, getting miners on-board, getting peers to transact and then subsequently other blocks get created. It is believed that after mining the genesis block for the Bitcoin Blockchain the next block, known as Block 1, took almost six days to come about. Of course, now all of us know that the average duration between two blocks is closer to 10 minutes. Multiple interpretations exist for this delay of six days. Some believe that Nakamoto spent six days mining the original block as a test of the system in order to ensure its viability and then backdated the timestamp. More colorful and spiritually oriented followers believe he intended to recreate the story of God's rest after creating the world in six days. Not a lot of this needs to make sense to you, save for one fact- the genesis block is the very first block of a Blockchain and all blocks ever created are eventually back-linked to it. Bingo!

 

 

 

 

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