With the rise of bitcoin, the world saw a new career emerge in 2017: miner. Not the dirt-covered, pick-carrying working man, but the technophile hunting for the motherlode. Because today, the price of bitcoin has climbed to almost $8,000 and shows no signs of stopping. So what does this new kind of mining look like?

It’s all in the image

Bitcoin has no central government, which makes it a “decentralized currency.” To work, it requires people to use it—the “miners.” As Coindesk, which specializes in blockchain technology, explains, the term “mining” refers to the process in which bitcoin transactions are made secure—what puts the “crypto” in cryptocurrency. To make them impermeable, miners use computer equipment (their pickaxes) to make mathematical calculations. It’s not altruism. As payment, they receive the right to collect newly created bitcoins as well as the fees of transactions they’ve confirmed, up to 12.5 bitcoins per block.

Hash Hash

Behind the simple term “secure” is a complex computer process with its own cryptic lexicon. During mining, bitcoin.fr shows that the computer carries out a series of hashes, whose job is to create a footprint to partially encrypt the initial data. The encryption key, specific to each hash, is made up of “nonce,” numbers randomly generated by the mining software. At the end, the hash looks something like: 93ef6f358fbb998c60802496863052290d4c63735b7fe5bdaac821de96a53a9a.

After theory, practice

Anyone can mine. All you need is the proper software (GUIMiner, for example) and to configure it. For those preferring to mine more, or in a “pool,” the mining will be more efficient, yes, but the profits will be different. The profit generated by each member in a pool will be automatically divided equally. However, collective mining assures the stability of gains. So working alone to earn more but less often, or working in group to earn less but more frequently? That’s the dilemma that each aspiring miner faces.