The following are some highly recommended bitcoin informational resources:
The original white paper, there is no better place to start!
Real time data worthy of a bookmark!
Information and educational resources curated by esteemed bitcoin expert Jameson Lopp.
The Nakamoto Institute - A curated collection of bitcoin related editorials.
Libbitcoin Wiki - A collection of cryptoeconomic concepts and fud-busters.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Bitcoin?
A: Bitcoin is a digital money native to the internet that has no central servers or access permissions. Instead it is a highly inclusive, voluntary money that any person can use simply by downloading the software on readily available consumer hardware. Users can broadcast transactions to the network at any time as long as they pay a fee and other merchants can accept and verify payment in bitcoin as valid by referencing their own software. All users stay in sync with each other by updating their software according to merchant who provably earned the right through mining.
Q: What is Bitcoin Mining?
A: Mining is the mechanism that keeps all users on the network in consensus with each other since there is no central server to do this job. Simply trusting each other does not work because trust inevitably breaks down and leads to disputes. So instead merchants engage in a contest to update the network by seeing who can do the most work by using computational power. Any dispute that may occur is simply settled by additional computational power - so basically whoever invests in the most work and takes the most risk gets rewarded.
Successful miners not only get to update everyone's ledger with the newest block of transactions, but the miner also wins all of the fees associated with the transactions in the block. In this way the people using bitcoin and paying for transaction confirmation are paying miners to invest in computational power and keep their transactions secure. This synergy is what makes bitcoin tick.
Q: Why do people value bitcoin?
A: People value bitcoin because the network of merchants using it can make and receive payments with ultra high settlement reliability without requiring any permissions to participate. Generally bitcoin has performed very well as a savings vehicle precisely because of this utility that has resulted in significant value appreciation. As a native internet money, it transcends state borders and unlike sovereign fiat money it does not suffer from arbitrary, unpredictable monetary supply changes which devalue the work people have invested to earn the money. For these, and many other reasons, bitcoin is a highly sought after.
Q: Is Bitcoin secure?
A: Any user accepting bitcoin as payment can run the bitcoin software, commonly called a 'full node', which accounts for all transactions on the network. Each user is able to verify for themselves if the bitcoin received is valid on their own ledger. The more time that passes after a payment is first confirmed, the less chance the payment will be counterfeit. In this way the user can ensure the payment is settled simply by giving it time to confirm.
Q: How much power can I generate from my natural gas?
A: Not all natural gas is equal, different sources have different heating values and capacity to produce power. A general rule of thumb is that 1000 standard cubic meters of methane quality natural gas can power a load equivalent of 100 kW for a day.
Q: How much bitcoin can I mine from the power I generate?
A: Bitcoin mining revenue is proportional to your share of the total work being done on the network and how many bitcoins are being mined in total. The work you do is measured by your hashrate, which is a function of how much power you are generating and the efficiency of the bitcoin mining computers (ASICs) that you are powering. If you own 10% of the network hashrate you would get 10% of the network reward, minus any pool fees if applicable. Many online bitcoin mining calculators exist that can give you a snapshot of current revenue forecasts for a given hashrate.
Q: What do I need to start mining off natural gas?
A: Generally you need 5 components:
Quality fuel gas to fuel a genset / power plant.
Natural gas genset to generate electricity.
Datacenter to house, cool and distribute power to the mining ASICs.
Bitcoin mining ASICs such as Antminers or Whatsminer brand.
24/7 internet connection such as cellular or satellite.
Q: After I mine some bitcoin, what can I do with it?
A: Generally you can hold on to it (save / speculate) or use it to buy things. While it is true that few businesses accept bitcoin as payment, you can use an exchange to convert it to the currency of your choice. Upstream Data will even market buy your bitcoin if you work with us on a project!