Bitcoin Is Worth $2,000. What?

At some point in the last eight years, somebody might have tried to explain bitcoin to you and it didn’t make one goddamned lick of sense. Maybe it was a well-meaning friend who made you sit through an ostensibly easy-to-understand YouTube explainer, or a techie blathering at the bar—either way, I’m willing to bet it wasn’t very helpful.

But why do you need to understand bitcoin? It’s a complicated beast that you may never have to engage with in your everyday life. Then again, a single bitcoin is now worth over $2,000 USD, so it might be time to finally come to grips with what the hype is all about.

Read More: This NES Mines Bitcoin

The very simple explanation that you’ve probably heard already is that bitcoin is virtual “money.” You can buy things with it, you can buy more of it with regular money and hold onto it until it appreciates in value, and every bitcoin transaction is recorded to the blockchain, a public ledger. Great—but why is it worth so much right now?

The bitcoin currency runs on code that’s based on the principles of “cryptoeconomics,” which means that it uses math and money to influence people’s behaviour. Bitcoin, albeit intangible, runs on a material infrastructure made up of human beings, their money, and their faith in the system. The idea is that if people put their money into the bitcoin system, the parameters set in the code ensure that the value of the currency goes up in proportion to their investment.

In real terms, it works like this: the base layer of real money in bitcoin is mining infrastructure. Miners are groups of people who run massive server farms (which cost a whole bunch of cash to start and maintain), and their computers perform calculations required by the bitcoin code to add transactions to the blockchain. As a reward for their work, the system automatically releases bitcoin back to them, which they can buy stuff with, or sell, or re-invest. And thus bitcoin’s base economic layer is created.

Read More: Inside the Chinese Bitcoin Mine That’s Grossing $1.5M a Month

The bitcoin code regulates this economy by reducing the amount of bitcoins that are released as a reward over time. One day, there will be no mining reward at all, and all the bitcoins that will ever exist will be in the wild. The price goes up because of this fixed supply, paired with steadily increasing demand—the only variable with wiggle room is the price.

But where does the demand come from? This part of the equation can be explained in the next economic layer of bitcoin: the people who actually use it, but aren’t invested in mining. This includes the people who are just using bitcoin to buy goods, like domain names or shirts from an online store. People in this layer use real money to buy and sell their bitcoin on exchanges, which are kind of like stock markets for virtual currencies. When people buy bitcoin with real money, it pushes the price up, and when they dump their bitcoin in exchange for real money, the price goes down. This happens thousands of times every day.

Between the second and third layer are businesses that use bitcoin’s underlying infrastructure—namely, the blockchain—to run services in the form of applications. One popular use of the blockchain is to timestamp information or documents by including them in a transaction with a small amount of bitcoin. There’s also a number of financial institutions who are looking into adopting bitcoin’s infrastructure as, for example, an instant settlement layer for stock trading. These applications provide value for layer three.

Read More: Bitcoin Is for the People, Not Wall Street

And here we find the third economic layer of bitcoin that contributes to its price going up: speculators. This is the most fickle of layers, since it’s buoyed by people’s ever-changing belief in bitcoin’s future instead of their own monetary investment. People and organizations in this layer also don’t contribute anything to bitcoin beyond their money and attention, which is nonetheless enough to drive the price up in relation to the increased demand that speculators represent.

All of these layers—really, just people spending money inside a system with parameters decided by its code—have been working together to arrive at the whopping $2,000 price for a single bitcoin that we have today. As for what has motivated the individuals within these layers to invest more lately, well, that’s even tougher to pin down.

It might be a new Japanese law that allows retailers to legally accept bitcoin. This is a boon for Japanese people and businesses who use bitcoin, and for speculators who see a global market opening. A debate about a code change that would affect miners and has ripped the bitcoin community apart for years also seems to be circling the hoop, conclusion-wise.

Read More: The Dream of Buying a Coffee With Bitcoin Is Dying, If It’s Not Already Dead

Alright, so that’s about it. What should be clear to you now, whether you really get it or not, is that bitcoin is completely bonkers. It’s a massive system worth billions of dollars that’s based on nothing more than people, their money, and some code. Altogether, it spins value seemingly out of thin air. It’s kind of bullshit, but so is everything else in this world. And that doesn’t make it any less real.

But while bitcoiners are no doubt celebrating the high price, questions about bitcoin’s future linger, namely because elements of all three economic layers are in competition with each other. If some miners get their way, some fear that average users running full versions of the bitcoin software may no longer be able to, centralizing the network. If the speculators get their way, bitcoin might end up being another dry financial tool, bereft of its world-changing potential.

So far, however, the cryptoeconomic idea behind bitcoin has worked out, and that’s why bitcoin is worth more than $2,000 USD. But, as bitcoin has demonstrated time and time again, one crack in the pressure cooker can cause the whole pot to explode—what happens next is anybody’s guess.

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7 Lessons About Electricity – From the Archive

Due to an injury and some pressing personal matters requiring my attention, posts for the rest of week will be some favorites from the archives of the blog.

One of my most memorable elementary school science lessons included all of us creating working circuits with multiple switches to illuminate light bulbs. Our power source was 120 volt standard outlet. I don’t think that would be allowed in most classrooms today, but our teacher, Mrs. Carlson, was young and fearless. I was reminded of that lesson this morning when I watched SciShow Kids’ new video about the power of circuits. The video provides students with clear visuals and explanations of how a circuit works including the function of a switch. The video then demonstrates creating a circuit with a battery, small switch, and a light bulb.

Not all electricity is distributed in the same way. Some is distributed through direct currents like batteries in a flashlight and some is distributed through alternating currents which is what you find in the power lines running through your neighborhood. The following from Derek Owens explains the differences between direct current and alternating current.

An interesting TED-Ed lesson on The Science of Static Electricity.

Brain Stuff has a video that offers a good explanation of why we hear a buzzing sound coming from fluorescent lights found in many schools and office buildings. The video is embedded below.

Minute Physics offers a short video explaining how modern light bulbs work and how light bulb design has changed over the last 100+ years.The video also includes explanations of the different types of modern light bulbs and their applications. The video is embedded below.

Hydro to Home is an interactive story of hydro-electric power from raindrops to homes. The story walks visitors through each step of the process of generating hydro-electric power and delivering to consumers’ homes. The story is narrated and along the way there are interactive images that visitors can click on to learn even more information about hydro-electric power.

The Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits is a neat series of interactive animations designed to help students of elementary and middle school age learn how electric circuits work. There are five sections to the series. Each sections builds upon the lessons of the previous section. The series starts with the basics of what makes a circuit complete and concludes with diagramming and building circuits. Each section in the series has a few short lessons and is followed by an animated interactive activity to which students can apply what they have just learned.

online PD this summer

This post originally appeared on Free Technology for Teachers

if you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission.

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10 benefits of owning a thermal camera

Don’t have a thermal camera of your own yet? Here are 10 reasons why you should get one right now

Have you heard of IR thermal cameras but still aren’t sure how they work or how they can benefit you? It’s simple. The thermal infrared image allows you to view heat and how it’s distributed. The thermal camera detects infrared energy and converts it into an electronic signal, which is then processed and produces incredible thermal images that you can see. It has many uses which can be applied to prevent expensive repairs and save you money in the long run.

1. Checking radiant heat location in wires and pipes

Most pipes and wires are hidden from view. If you ever find yourself in a situation trying to find a broken heat pipe or checking if an electrical wire is properly insulated, a thermal camera can do that in 3 seconds.

Checking radiant heat location in wires and pipes

2. Save money on heating and cooling your home

Experts estimate that not having your home properly insulated can account for up to 50% of the total energy consumption in a family home. Heat is typically lost through bad window and door seals or badly insulated walls. If your home has this problem, (and many homes do) and are running an air conditioner or heat, then the cold/hot air will escape outside.

3. Electrical inspections

Electrical fires are extremely dangerous and can be prevented with regular checks of the walls for hot spots or failures of your fuse boxes and circuit boxes.

4. Detecting leaks

If your roof has a small leak it can go undetected until it’s too late and costly to fix.

5. Locating potential areas for mold to grow

Having mold in your home is a major pain to remove and a health hazard. It is much better to prevent any mold growth than having to deal with areas that already suffer from mold damage.

6. Checking your fridge, freezer and oven

With a thermal imaging device, you can be sure your cold and heating appliances are working as intended. A freezer that leaks cold air is costly in the long run.

7. Wide variety of cameras

There are many different varieties of IR thermal cameras available, from small devices that can be used with your phone to sturdy security cameras for constant outside use.

8. Diagnose your car

You can troubleshoot engine misfires and any A/C cooling issues.

9. Measure body temperature

Easily measure the body temperature of kids or adults to know if they have a fever.

10. Explore and have fun

The uses of IR thermal cameras are still being discovered and even begun to be fitted on drones.

The post 10 benefits of owning a thermal camera appeared first on TechWorm.

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How the Human Body Processes Medicine

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As some of you may have seen on Instagram, I injured my right hand on Friday evening. After looking at the cuts on my hand, the emergency room doctor prescribed a round of antibiotics and a mild pain reliever. So it was with some extra interest that I watched a new TED-Ed lesson titled How Does Your Body Process Medicine? The lesson teaches viewers how medicine swallowed as pills end up in the bloodstream and how the medicine targets an ailment. Viewers also learn about the many variables that can affect the speed and efficacy of a medication in a patient.

The video from the lesson is embedded below.

online PD this summer

This post originally appeared on Free Technology for Teachers

if you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission.

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