Bitcoin’s Next Halving ETA Advances Amid Mining Frenzy and Launch Hype, Setting Stage for Historic Block 840,000

Bradley Keoun

HALVE TIME: The expected date of the next Bitcoin halving keeps creeping forward – thanks to miners upgrading to faster, more powerful machines and powering up older models, incentivized by this year’s BTC price runup to a new all-time high around $74,000. The halving’s ETA is now somewhere around mid-April, a couple weeks earlier than was expected a few months ago. A similar thing happened four years ago, when prices were also surging, essentially causing the blockchain to speed up. What’s different this time around – and perhaps different from pretty much every prior halving in the network’s 15-year history – is how many projects are now targeting the event for hype-inducing launches and other frenzy-inciting pursuits. Chief among those is the planned launch of Runes, the fungible-token protocol being developed by Casey Rodarmor, whose launch of the Ordinals protocol last year, with its NFT-like inscriptions, caused a sensation on Bitcoin, driving up transactional activity along with fees and congestion. There could also be a scramble to mine block No. 840,000, where the halving is supposed to automatically occur. In the past, mining the all-important halving block brought little more than bragging rights and the chance to embed a message into the blockchain, for posterity. (In 2020, winner F2Pool wrote something about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Covid-related money-printing.) But now, with the introduction of the Ordinals protocol, it’s possible to actually trade specific serial numbers to the tiniest increments of Bitcoin, known as satoshis or “sats.” And there’s a premium for the especially precious “rare sats” corresponding with milestones like the halving. Already, as reported by CoinDesk’s Daniel Kuhn, people are predicting that block 840,000 could be “the most valuable block to be mined to date.” There’s also the risk that the competition could get so intense that things go horribly awry, resulting in a nasty “reorg.” Pretty crypto, right?

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