On September 15, 2022, the Ethereum network will adopt the proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism in place of its current proof-of-work (PoW) system. It is a momentous event that perhaps the entire cryptoverse has been waiting for years.
On September 15, 2022, the Ethereum network will adopt the proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism in place of its current proof-of-work (PoW) system. It is a momentous event that perhaps the entire cryptoverse has been waiting for years. And, as the date draws closers, news stories and predictions around The Merge also seem to be coming in thick and fast.
Here are three of the most recent and noteworthy updates about Ethereum's transition to PoS.
Google adds Ethereum merge countdown
Google has added a countdown to the Ethereum merge. Any "Ethereum Merge" or related searches will lead you to a countdown ticker with the days, hours and minutes left until the update. It also highlights the current mining difficulty and the difficulty at which the merge takes place. It also shows two pandas running to embrace each other, symbolizing the merger of Ethereum's main chain and its PoS Beacon Chain. The pandas will move closer to each other as The Merge nears.
The tech conglomerate also had good reason to add the animation, with the term 'Ethereum Merge' registering much higher search volumes over the last few days.
Security experts warn of post-merge vulnerability
Proof-of-stake blockchains are supposed to be less susceptible to 51 percent attacks. This is because anyone planning such an exploit would have to stake massive amounts of ETH to control 51 percent or more of the network's transaction validation rights. They would also risk losing out on all their staked ETH, resulting in huge losses. However, one particular blockchain developer and security expert are warning of potential vulnerabilities after the merge.
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In an interview with CoinTelegraph, he explained that the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism intimates nodes in advance regarding the blocks they will validate. This prior knowledge can allow bad actors to orchestrate something known as a reorg attack, which usually takes place when a network update occurs. The expert explained that such an attack is theoretically possible after The Merge if validators manage to line up two consecutive blocks to validate.
"If you control two consecutive blocks, you can start an exploit on block N and finish it on block N+1 without having any arbitrage bot coming in and fixing the price that you have manipulated in between," the expert said, choosing to remain anonymous.
He explained that reorg attacks are possible on PoW blockchains, but it would depend on luck to be successful. He also explained that such an attack is still only theoretical and that PoS is an otherwise secure consensus mechanism.
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"But that being said
The effect of The Merge on layer-2 blockchains
There were also some murmurs about the viability of layer-2 scaling solutions post the merge. Many wondered if such solutions would still be required after the transition to PoS and the eventual adoption of sharding somewhere in 2023. However, several experts have explained that The Merge will not have any effect on L2 chains.
"It will be business as usual for L2s. These solutions still have key value for short, medium and long-term scalability. L2s will still be needed to fulfil the growing demand and usage of blockchains across the globe. Even 100,000 transactions per second would not be sufficient to meet true global demand and adoption."
Some even see The Merge as beneficial rather than something to worry about. "As Ethereum L1 becomes more efficient, L2s will simply become even more efficient while preserving their existing added benefits," said Alan Chiu, founder of the Boba Network, a layer-2 scaling solution for Ethereum.
An example of this would be Polygon, which could see its carbon footprint reduce by 60,000 tonnes, according to the Crypto Carbon Ratings Institute (CCRI). The CCRI estimates that nearly 99.92 percent of Polygon's emissions come from activities on the Ethereum base layer.
Therefore, with The Merge expected to reduce Ethereum's power consumption by 99 percent, Polygon's annual carbon emissions will reduce to 56.22 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). This is a steep drop from its current emission levels of 60,953.26 tCO2e.
The Ethereum merge is a huge event in the cryptoverse. It will have far-reaching effects on the rest of the crypto industry. And with just a few days left before the merge takes place, we won't have to wait too long to see how these effects pan out and take shape.
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(Edited by : Pihu Yadav)