The Merge: Ethereum's Grand Dènouement
Ethereum's Proof-of-Work consensus system becomes a fondly remembered figment of the networks nostalgic past
After more than 5 years of herculean testing and preparation, the highly anticipated Merge upgrade successfully retires Ethereum Proof-of-Work (PoW) system where miners compete to validate the next transaction block— and earn rewards for their participation— by solving cryptographic puzzles.
Ethereum's coterie of developers, experts, investors, researchers and a menagerie of enthusiasts were on tenterhooks waiting to see if the network would begin successfully proposing and validating new transaction blocks via Proof-of-Stake.
The historical transition occurred on Sept.15 at 06:42:42 UTC at block 15537393, with the merger of the Ethereum mainnet execution layer and the Beacon Chain’s consensus layer at the Terminal Total Difficulty (TTD) of 58750000000000000000000, meaning the network shifted to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) seamlessly and will no longer rely on miners to produce new blocks.
The flawless PoW-PoS transition of the Ethereum network was not in any way fortuitous as envisaged by some critics of the network—largely from the Bitcoin maximalists. The Merge upgrade was an endeavour so risky that many doubted it would come to fruition. So many steps could have gone wrong and the cost of failure could have been astronomical.
Ethereum’s shift to PoS significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the network by 99.95%, reduces the issuance of ETH through rewards to validators for their work in maintaining the network —making ETH become a deflationary asset and will also make the network secure and highly scalable—potentially increasing transaction speeds of the second largest Blockchain, according to the Ethereum foundation.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin recognized the significance of the occasion and expressed his gratitude to all who contributed to making Ethereum's historic upgrade a success.
Meanwhile, Ethereum Core Developer Preston van Loon confirmed the network’s block production time after merge completion became 10% faster on PoS.
EEthereum's Proof-of-Stake consensus engine will be maintained by validators – individuals who “stake” at least 32 ETH. These staked ETH tokens act like lottery tickets: The more ETH a validator commits to the network, the more likely one of its tickets will be drawn, granting the validator permission to propose a new block.