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Cardano’s Allegra Hard Fork Scheduled for Next Week, Node Release 1.24.2 Successfully Deployed

The next Cardano protocol update, which includes the hard fork combinator (HFC) event Allegra, will take place on Dec. 16….

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Cardano has recently successfully deployed the node release of 1.24.2 to the Cardano mainnet, ahead of its hard fork, Allegra. The next Cardano protocol update, which includes the hard fork combinator (HFC) event Allegra, will take place on Dec. 16.

Cardano hard fork combinator Allegra

According to Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK), the blockchain development company behind Cardano, after extensive testing on its QA networks, node release 1.24.2 has bee deployed on the Cardano mainnet. IOHK announced:

“This morning, after extensive testing on our QA networks, we’ve successfully deployed Node release 1.24.2 to the #Cardano mainnet. This release supports the next Cardano protocol update (‘token locking’ HFC event codenamed ‘Allegra’) planned for 16 December, so looking good.”

Sebastien Guillemot, the lead research and development engineer at Emurgo recently explained that the upcoming Allegra hard fork does not fundamentally change anything about how transactions are made. He added, “any translation that is valid right now for Shelley will be valid in Allegra.”

What is Cardano’s Allegra hard fork?

Cardano’s upcoming hard fork, Allegra, is a hard fork combinator (HFC) that is different from hard forks on other blockchains which allows the hard fork to be deployed before the hard fork happens. This upgrade is part of the next transition for the Cardano blockchain from the Shelley era to the Goguen era.

What it means for the end-user is that there would not be a time where the server would need to go down before the first upgrade, and they would not see any interruption at all. IOHK’s recent blog explained:

“To enable a smooth transition, Cardano automatically preserves the history of previous blocks. This allows the protocol to be upgraded without radical interference to the chain. The previous state does not vanish. Rather, it is extended to include new capabilities. Instead of splitting into two different chains, Cardano combines the original blocks that comply with the current block production rules with new blocks that comply with the new block production rules.”

The Allegra hard fork will introduce a token locking mechanism as part of Project Catalyst and Voltaire, the treasury system for Cardano. The treasury system would ensure the funding of the blockchain network indefinitely. As part of on-chain voting on Cardano, tokens must be locked up before voting can happen, to avoid attacks.

As Project Catalyst is expected to launch soon, Guillemot explained that the token locking mechanism is needed ahead of time.

ADA price predictions are high ahead of Allegra hard fork

As witnessed during the last time where the Cardano blockchain went through a hard fork, ADA’s price surged ahead of the Shelley update. As Cardano takes one step further towards becoming a fully decentralized blockchain, ADA’s price could benefit and see a rally.

ADA is currently trading at $0.145 according to CoinMarketCap and currently ranks the 8th by market capitalization. Coinswitch modestly predicts that by 2023 ADA coins will reach the $2 dollar mark.

What is Cardano’s Mary hard fork?

Cardano’s Mary hard fork adds a new concept of multi-asset support. Cardano aims to have multiple assets on the blockchain to enable any user to create their own asset. Guillemot explains that non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or assets on other blockchains could be added to the network. All the assets created on the blockchain network would be treated “almost as the same way as ADA.”

Guillemot further explained that the other assets could be sent in the same transaction with ADA, however, every transaction on Cardano needs to contain ADA, fees would be paid in ADA, and delegation rewards would only be paid in ADA.

The Mary hard fork is expected in Q1 of 2021.

Image source: Shutterstock

Source: https://blockchain.news/news/cardano-allegra-hard-fork-week-node-release-successfully-deployed

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Crunchbase

Square Rolls Up Afterpay As BNPL Market Stays Hot

Payments platform Square plans to buy Afterpay, an Australian buy now, pay later service, in an all-stock deal valued at around $29 billion.

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Payments platform Square plans to buy Afterpay, an Australian buy now, pay later service, in an all-stock deal valued at around $29 billion.

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Melbourne-based Afterpay is publicly traded on Australia’s ASX exchange. It currently counts more than 16 million consumers and nearly 100,000 merchants globally as users of its platform, including major retailers across fashion, homewares, beauty, sporting goods and other categories. The company, backed by investors including Tencent and Coatue, has raised just under $449 million in funding, per Crunchbase data.

Afterpay competes in the increasingly crowded buy now, pay later space, which allows consumers to break up online purchases into smaller payments. Its biggest competitors include Stockholm-based Klarna, which has raised $3.7 billion from private investors to date, and Affirm, which raised $1.5 billion in venture funding before going public in January. Affirm’s share price has since plummeted to less than half of its 52-week high in February, but jumped 14 percent in morning trading on Monday after the Afterpay acquisition was announced.

Another major player in the BNPL space includes fintech giant PayPal, which in 2008 purchased Bill Me Later, an early pioneer in the space.

All told, venture investors poured $1.7 billion into buy now, pay later companies between 2016 and 2020, per Crunchbase data. A Bank of America survey late last year predicted the BNPL market was poised to “grow 10-15 times by 2025 to eventually process between $650 billion and $1 trillion in transactions.”

Venture investors like the BNPL business model because these startups essentially have two revenue streams, Kamran Ansari, a venture partner at Greycroft, which invested in e-commerce pay-over-time financing tool Credit Key, told Crunchbase News earlier this year.

The first revenue source is the actual transaction, when the merchant typically pays between 2 and 3 percent of the purchase price to the BNPL service in exchange for being able to offer that convenience to its customers. The second revenue stream for the BNPL service is interest payments from borrowers.

Square’s shares have surged 105 percent over the past year amid a boom for digital transactions such as its mobile Cash App. It also reported second-quarter earnings on Sunday, revealing that revenue had more than doubled from the same quarter the previous year, to $4.7 billion.

San Francisco-based Square said it plans to integrate Afterpay into its Cash App and seller ecosystem.

“By combining with Square, we will further accelerate our growth in the U.S. and globally, offer access to a new category of in-person merchants, and provide a broader platform of new and valuable capabilities and services to our merchants and consumers, Afterpay co-founders and co-CEOs Anthony Eisen and Nick Molnar said in a statement announcing the deal.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Another major player in the BNPL space includes fintech giant PayPal, which in 2008 purchased Bill Me Later, an early pioneer in the space.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/square-rolls-up-afterpay-as-bnpl-market-stays-hot/

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Bioengineer

$1 million grant to address cold storage logistics in vaccine delivery

Credit: Penn State College of Engineering COVID-19 vaccines have been tested, validated and administered to millions of people around the

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COVID-19 vaccines have been tested, validated and administered to millions of people around the world. But in some countries, the vaccines have yet to arrive in great enough numbers.

One significant hurdle is that the vaccines must be stored between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit to retain their full efficacy, according to the Centers for Disease Control. To ensure the proper temperature, the vaccines need a refrigerated supply chain, also known as a cold chain, as they are distributed across the globe.

“If they are in warm temperatures, COVID vaccines and other medications are susceptible to degradation, which means they lose potency,” said Medina, who heads the Medina Group Precision Therapeutics and Bioresponsive Materials Lab at Penn State. “And the cold storage supply chain is expensive to maintain, with several transport steps necessary from the manufacturer to the distributer to the provider facility.”

To address that challenge, Medina and his team plan to develop fluorochemical dispersants, known as “FTags,” which coat the proteins within the vaccine liquids to stabilize them thermally.

“The FTags dissolve the proteins in a fluorine-based liquid, which yields proteins that we believe may be stable at elevated temperatures, without compromising their structure or function,” Medina said. “When dissolved in the fluorine-based liquid, the proteins also are immune to contamination by microorganisms and enzymes.”

Fluorochemicals are used in a range of applications, such as in making surfaces resistant to scratches and chemical degradation, as in the case of non-stick cookware.

Eventually, Medina plans to study the use of fluorochemical coatings in other biological products, with the goal of eliminating the need to move any pharmaceutical via a cold chain.

“This will allow access to medications in places where currently there is not,” Medina said. “For example, a soldier at war could be exposed to a harmful chemical agent. A fluorochemical-coated protein, which can be carried without refrigeration, could neutralize that agent immediately. This is part of DARPA’s interest in supplying this grant.”

The grant is part of DARPA’s Young Faculty Award program, which provides funding, mentoring and networking opportunities to faculty early in their careers who plan to focus their research on Department of Defense and national security interests.

In 2020, Medina published a study in ACS Nano on delivering therapeutic medications directly to a precise area of the body through an acoustically sensitive carrier, guided by ultrasound. The proposed DARPA-funded study is a spin-off of that study’s findings.

“Janna Sloand, my former grad student who recently defended her doctoral research, came up with the coating technology in our last study,” Medina said. “It dovetails nicely with our new study, which will use those same coatings to take on the limitations of the cold chain.”

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Source: https://bioengineer.org/1-million-grant-to-address-cold-storage-logistics-in-vaccine-delivery/

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Cointelegraph

The future of DeFi is spread across multiple blockchains

Creating interoperability, not competition: Multichain solutions will positively impact the blockchain space in terms of accessibility, innovation and economic viability.

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Long stuck in the shadows of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) finally took hold of the market in 2020 during the decentralized finance summer. Designed to recreate traditional financial systems with fewer middlemen, DeFi is now being used across lending, borrowing, and the buying and selling of tokens. The majority of these decentralized applications (DApps) are run on Ethereum, which saw activity on the network increase during 2020. This activity also trended upwards due to yield farming, also known as liquidity mining, which enables holders to generate rewards with their crypto capital.

But as activity on Ethereum increased, so too did the network’s transaction fees. In May, it was reported that Ethereum gas fees were skyrocketing. It’s intuitive that engaging in DeFi is only worthwhile when handling capital that exceeds any network fees. Consequently, it soon became clear to users that the blockchain was verging on unusable.

Related: Where does the future of DeFi belong: Ethereum or Bitcoin? Experts answer

Without a doubt, Ethereum remains the most active and populated blockchain, but other potential players are popping up, providing a viable alternative to Ethereum. For example, layer one protocols such as Binance Smart Chain (BSC) and Solana (SOL) are attracting billions in assets under management, whereas layer two solutions such as Polygon (MATIC) are capturing Ethereum’s disgruntled users’ attention due to their compatibility with Ethereum-based protocols. This is in addition to delivering low fees and quick transaction speeds. However, despite Ethereum gas fees reaching a high over the past year and the growth of faster networks, none of these chains have killed Ethereum yet.

It’s because of this, as we enter the second half of 2021, that the narrative of “Ethereum vs. the rest” is starting to change — developers are realizing the value of a cross-chain future rather than having to pick one blockchain to build on. It’s no longer a case of creating a chain with a competitive edge, but of ensuring all chains can work interchangeably to improve the industry.

Related: A multichain future will accelerate innovators and entrepreneurs

Benefits and drawbacks of a multichain future

Due to its prominence and longstanding presence in the market, Ethereum has the first-mover advantage and remains the most significant blockchain within the DeFi ecosystem as of Q1 2021. But with other chains gaining momentum, it is these alternatives to Ethereum that are providing the benefits of faster transaction speeds and significantly lower fees.

The introduction of other chains isn’t necessarily a bad thing, even for Ethereum fans. After all, a multichain ecosystem brings additional space for new protocols to enter, each with a strong user base. Each new chain also creates a new community, vacancies for services, and an individual identity and culture.

Related: Too little, too late? Ethereum losing DeFi ground to rival blockchains

One possible drawback, depending on how you look at it, is that some blockchains require unique programming languages, such as JavaScript, Rholang, Simplicity, Rust or Solidity, which may present a barrier to entry for developers. At the same time, however, different coding languages can present a new way for developers to solve a problem. And as the blockchain space moves further towards multichain, it may inspire developers to create and innovate as they witness the diversity in viable blockchain projects. It’s for this reason that projects which don’t innovate could be seen as lagging and abandoned by their community.

Not only that, but separated blockchains create innovation silos, presenting challenges to progress and adoption. Joining the multichain future together can be seen as seamlessly connecting these specialized groups. This could be seen as a difficult objective to achieve in the traditional tech world, but cryptocurrency and blockchain are challenging these existing infrastructure monopolies, and this industry has the ability to pioneer an ecosystem that works cohesively rather than competitively.

Related: Life beyond Ethereum: What layer-one blockchains are bringing to DeFi

More blockchains, more value

It’s inevitable that projects will eventually connect multiple blockchains, making the transfer of information from one chain to another seamless. In fact, the cryptocurrency market and multichain adoption is less of a zero-sum game than is often cited. And, as the multichain future becomes more apparent, it will only become clearer that the additional functionality, usability and scalability it brings is contributing to the onboarding of new users.

Related: The great tech exodus: The Ethereum blockchain is the new San Francisco

Rather than viewing the existence of a multichain future with doubt, it should be looked on positively. There are plenty of different smart contract platforms in the crypto ecosystem, all of which impact the blockchain space in terms of accessibility, economic viability and innovation. Blockchains may be separated right now, but everything will come together in the end, creating an interoperable and fast network of protocols that fulfils our daily needs. The beauty of this is that we won’t have to worry about how we’re transacting or what we’re transacting on, as it won’t matter.

We’re still far from achieving the end goal of interoperability, but once it’s achieved mass adoption, the crypto industry will be unstoppable. And, as the sector continues to grow, projects are finding that they have to adapt to a multichain future soon or risk getting left behind.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Michael O’Rourke is the co-founder and CEO of Pocket Network. Michael is a self-taught iOS and Solidity developer. He was also on the ground level of Tampa Bay’s Bitcoin/crypto meetup and consultancy, Blockspaces, with a focus on teaching developers Solidity. He graduated from the University of South Florida.

Without a doubt, Ethereum remains the most active and populated blockchain, but other potential players are popping up, providing a viable alternative to Ethereum. For example, layer one protocols such as Binance Smart Chain (BSC) and Solana (SOL) are attracting billions in assets under management, whereas layer two solutions such as Polygon (MATIC) are capturing Ethereum’s disgruntled users’ attention due to their compatibility with Ethereum-based protocols. This is in addition to delivering low fees and quick transaction speeds. However, despite Ethereum gas fees reaching a high over the past year and the growth of faster networks, none of these chains have killed Ethereum yet.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/the-future-of-defi-is-spread-across-multiple-blockchains

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