05 Dec Nexus
Nexus (NXS): Bringing Us Astronomical Gains
Published: 4th Dec 2017 | Updated: 9th December 2018
Nexus (NXS) seeks to free humankind from centralized systems. Being decentralized is not merely enough. We must decentralize the decentralization. Using software and hardware, Nexus seeks to build the foundation for the most decentralized system to ever be developed: Nexus Earth.
Every crypto enthusiast is familiar with the phrase “to the moon”.
It’s what we live for. It’s the reason we invest in crypto; not the common stocks. It’s the reason we spend our days habitually refreshing Blockfolio when we should be working. And, let’s be honest: it’s probably the reason you’re reading this article right now.
Back in January 2017, we saw Ethereum (the brain-child of wonder kid Vitalik Buterin) take off from a humble price of $8. Just five months later, one ETH’s value had increased to almost $400.
A hell of a lot of people got really rich, really fast.
We saw something similar in June 2017. Back then, NEO (formerly known as AntShares) was valued at just over a dollar. Just a few months later, NEO was trading at an incredible $50. These are what we call moon missions. And our team think we’ve found the next one.
It’s bold. It’s ambitious. And it could just be the biggest game-changer the world’s monetary system has ever seen.
What is Nexus?
If you search for ‘nexus’ in a dictionary, you’ll be presented with a definition that is “a connection or a series of connections linking two or more things”.
Looking at that literal definition, we think that this project has been appropriately named.
When we asked the Nexus team themselves to describe their project in a sentence, they told us that it is ‘a decentralized currency project looking to distribute networks fairly worldwide via infrastructure such as cube satellites in space.’
Yep, you read that correctly. Cube satellites in space. How’s that for decentralization!?
But before we start nerding-out over the prospect of a space cryptocurrency, let’s take a step back.
At its core, Nexus is another take on Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision of a true decentralized, peer-to-peer electronic cash system.
If you’re not familiar with Nakamoto’s vision, the basic idea is to give the world access to a monetary store of value that cannot be controlled, influenced or compromised by those who believe they should have control over YOUR money (*cough* central banks *cough*). As you’re no doubt already aware, this vision led to the creation of Bitcoin.
Nexus takes the concept of Bitcoin and pushes it to astronomical new heights, with true decentralization and superior scalability and security.
So, what is the point of decentralization? Why do we even need it? If you’re already familiar with cryptocurrency, you’re undoubtedly aware of the benefits that arise with a decentralized monetary system. Just in case you’re not, let’s look at an extreme example: in July 2013 the Cypriot government dispossessed everyone who had more than 100,000€ of 47.5% of their money. Some may describe it with the correct legal term: capital levy. But most people would simply call it theft.
It’s unlikely that we would see something this extreme occur in a country like the USA — that being said, can we really trust a select few people to regulate our means of transaction?
We know for a fact that governments are fond of ‘printing more money’ — after all it’s a great way to pay national debt. But is it fair that the value of your funds drops as a result of this?
This sort of thing shouldn’t be able to happen with crypto — there should be no central authority who controls your money, no bank, no government, no one. This was the reason that Bitcoin became so popular: it took the power and trust away from one point of failure. But is this really still the case?
Open a tech magazine and you’ll see advertisements for specialised mining hardware — all created by the same company/s. Is this really what Satoshi had in mind?
And isn’t the idea of ‘mining pools’ a direct contradiction to his vision, too? We don’t think that a small group of individuals should have so much power over a supposedly decentralized system.
The Harsh Truth (and How to Fix It)
When you think about Bitcoin, one of the first things you’d associate with it straight away would be decentralisation. Bitcoin might not be controlled by any banks or governments but it’s far from being truly decentralised.
In fact, it’s pretty centralised considering the fact that only 6 companies control almost 80% of the hash rate .
As you can imagine, this gives an incredible power to a few giants who can perform attacks on the network and influence the future of Bitcoin behind closed doors. Bitcoin was supposed to give more power to regular people by becoming a currency unresponsive to wars, governments, financial crises etc. And yet, we’re at the point where it can be massively manipulated by those who hold the majority of the mining power.
The mining pools are bad for true decentralisation and Antpool (previously known as Bitmain) is a great example of the potential dangers that they introduce. The controversy around this company is known as ‘Antbleed Backdoor’.
Essentially, the company introduced a backdoor into the firmware of their bitcoin mining hardware known as ‘Antminer’. It then transmits the serial number of the Antminer as well as MAC address and IP address . The company can use that data to check their customer base and remotely stop the miners from mining. This could have some immensely serious consequences, like 51% attack.”
A 51% attack is where the attacker has a large amount of mining resource available. He sends a transaction over the network and in private builds up an alternative blockchain with a competing transaction. You wait for ’n’ confirms, but as long as his chain is longer than the public chain he can at any point release his private chain to the public undoing your transaction.
The risks for the attack are that this attack is probabilistic — he can’t know that his chain will be longer after ’n’ confirms, he just has to get lucky. When there are three channels working synergistically together, the idea of a 51% attack becomes next to impossible.
Just imagine the brutal consequences to the entire cryptosphere if a large portion of hash rate got shut off. It’s reported that up to 70% of all mining equipment could be affected. If a single entity could influence the majority of the mining equipment then we can’t call Bitcoin a decentralised system. If one company turns off 70% of the network supporting Bitcoin, then the 51% attack becomes much more than plausible.
And this is where Nexus could change things…
Nexus aims to solve this problem by decreasing the input of one system into the mining process. With their 3D Blockchain, the power behind Nexus is kept in three separate but synergistic channels: keeping the power in the hands of the people, not a few whales.
Scalability is one of the biggest hurdles that crypto-currency must overcome before mainstream adoption.
In mid-November we saw an attack on the Bitcoin network, culminating in over 100,000 unconfirmed transactions. Transactions were processed painfully slow, and it was unpleasant reminder that Bitcoin is far from perfect.
Nexus tackles the scalability problem with their 3D Blockchain — unveiled by founder and developer Colin Cantrell at the Nexus Conference in Colorado on the 21–23rd of September. The 3D Blockchain will effectively allow for full scalability, with the ability to handle over 100,000 transactions per second on-chain. For reference, VISA handles on average 2,000 transactions per second. The majority of other projects are attempting to increase speed and transaction capacity off-chain.
Don’t underestimate this technology. It is the first architecture of its kind, and it gives Nexus a huge edge over competing cryptocurrencies. Let’s explain the 3D Blockchain with a metaphor:
Imagine a flowing river. There are thousands of fish swimming in this river, but they are all on the same level of current; unable to travel closer to the surface or go deeper. These fish represent Bitcoin that is being sent through the network. However, there are only so many fish that can be travelling simultaneously before the river bed runs out of room. This is the biggest problem that Bitcoin has — scalability.
Now, there are two logical ways to speed up the journey of the fish: you can either make the water bed wider, or make the water flow faster. Bitcoin can’t do either — they can’t make the river bed wider, because blocks are capped at 1MB, and they can’t make the water flow faster, as the dynamic difficulty of mining ensures that in a given period of time only a predetermined number of BTC can be mined (so that we end up with around 21 million coins in 2140).
The 3D blockchain solves both of these problems. Let’s dig a little further…
Innovation Beyond Imagination: Three-Dimensional Chain
For you to fully understand what calibre of change and innovation of technology this is and why it is such a huge leap forward, let’s look at some more metaphors: going from the traditional blockchain to the three-dimensional blockchain will be like going from MS Paint to Photoshop, from Charmander to Charizard or like going from a LAN-Party at your house to the Internet.
Most obviously though, it’s going to be like drawing a straight line on a piece of paper to creating a real-life 3D model of any given object.
So, what is the current situation in the old-school blockchain?
In simple words, each block of the blockchain in its header has a hash. This hash is what the miners are looking for in the process of mining. It is calculated based on, among other things, the hash of the previous block (this is the safety measure that ensures the validity of past blocks and makes it impossible to alter blocks that have already occurred).
You can really imagine it as a normal chain with links — as more time passes, more transactions occur, more fish populate our metaphorical river and the longer the chain gets. It could be also described as expanding (or scaling if you will) in one direction — time. This is a very simplified way of how the blockchain currently works but it’s enough for the purpose of understanding the 3DC.
As it’s been stated before this solution has many, many downsides. Actually, this is the very reason for the crazy amount of Bitcoin forks — the technology can and must be improved if we want to transfer our funds on a regular, daily basis and not be stuck waiting for a few hours (as it has already happened).
Just like Bitcoin, Nexus will be scaling in the direction of time. The hashes of incoming blocks and even transactions, will be based on the hashes of the past blocks. We’ll get more into the whole hashing thing later on. So that’s the first dimension — time.
Unlike Bitcoin, Nexus won’t have a set size of a block. Multiple transactions, depending on the demand and the network traffic, will be saved in one block. That’s the second dimension — the block size.
Every transaction also gets assigned values of Weight and Trust which determine how many resources should be assigned to it. Weight is assigned to a transaction based on how many acknowledgements of the workers it received.
Trust level is based on the ones who confirm the transaction and is calculated according to the amount of trust the individual systems acknowledging the transaction data have on the three lock levels. The transaction data have on the three lock levels.
In the current situation the transactions are being chained more or less randomly — transactions with fees to the network, or the miner if you will, have more incentive to be processed.
If you think back to the river analogy — looking down on the river from a bird’s eye view, traditional blockchain only flows one way. Sometimes it flows faster when there’s little traffic and sometimes it flows slower. This makes the fish only go in one direction — forward.
The 3DC starts on a similar level — fish in this river go forward per default (it would be a little weird if they went backwards). But they can also get grouped in shoals — if we want to stick with the metaphor, yes traditional blockchain also groups them in shoals but only in one at a time.
This is because the river bed is too narrow and they don’t have any space on the sides. In 3DC, the additional space can be created if needed.
And finally imagine a fish jumping out of the water or dipping its head into the mule of the river bed. Those are Trust and Weight — they determine whether the current should ‘help’ the slower fish or let the faster fish prosper.
Hashing mechanisms of 3DC
Ready for the real technical stuff?
Nexus transactions are linked with each other within one-time interval (fish within one shoal) — this feature enables a dynamic number of transactions (fish) within each interval (shoal). These are the L1 locks.
The L2 locks are linking the time axis (Z) with the block size axis (X) by calculating a hash based on the past transactions. In other words, fish from incoming shoals with fish from the past shoals.
These L2 locks are then hashed together to a L3 lock — essentially linking a number of shoals together. Then, with a mechanism called Merkle Tree, from the hashes of already linked shoals (L3) the final hash is calculated — the hash of the block.
Using the Merkle Tree, it is possible to calculate the final root hash from all the miners’ submitted shares — this gives the network the final lock which is then chained with other L3 locks. In other words, every miner gets rewarded proportional to the effort they are putting in (unlike Bitcoin where one miner just gets lucky).
Miners can participate in this final step by transmitting only 512- 1024 bytes at any given time which enormously simplifies mining on limited internet bandwidth. Thanks to these two features the cryptocurrency’s community will be able to put the now obsolete and unnecessary centralized mining pools right there where they belong -together with the centralized banks and other authorities in the forgotten history.
Because of this linking, hashing and allpresent check-sums it’s mathematically impossible to alter one transaction without altering all the other transactions connected with it.
One would have to coordinate an attack against all three layers. You already have an idea how hard an attack on the traditional blockchain is. This technology essentially makes it three times harder.
Another interesting feature is the transaction cap for miners. Nexus doesn’t want a few whales with the best hardware controlling all the mining — they want it be a truly global network that anyone can be a part of, even if they don’t have super expensive mining hardware.
This also reduces the risk of a mass exodus of mining power — it’s simply not safe to have the reliability of the entire network in the hands of a few big fish.
The Vector Factor
The idea of sending cube satellites is no gimmick — it is one of the fundamental reasons that Nexus is going to be the most decentralized currency in existence.
Speaking of satellites, one of Nexus’ major competitive advantages come in the form of their connections. As we mentioned previously, Colin Cantrell’s father Jim operates Vector Space Systems — and it is Vector that is going to be responsible for launching Nexus’ satellites.
Vector-R rocket made by Vector Space company at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. This is this model of rocket that will launch the Nexus Earth (NXS) cryptocurrency to the space and help spreading the new revolutionary Nexus 3D Blockchain architecture to the world thanks to a partnership between Vector and Nexus Earth.
The first of these orbital satellites is set to launch in 2018. They’re going to be small and inexpensive compared to regular satellites and Nexus plan to launch hundreds, if not thousands of them over the coming years.
Cube satellites in low earth orbit will provide network access worldwide at acceptable latencies and together with hardware devices on the ground, they will set the foundation for a global truly decentralized mesh network.
Vector are also working on Galactic Sky — a platform that essentially creates a digital cloud in space, providing innovators and entrepreneurs with unprecedented access to satellite capabilities and constellation infrastructure.
Worth noting is that Nexus and Vector signed a Letter of Intent in March 2017— signifying a mutual partnership that will allow the two networks to support each other.
TAO is an acronym for Tritium, Amine and Obsidian. In essence, TAO is a three-part update to the architecture of the Nexus codebase. But in reality, we think it is much more than that: we think that 3DC together with TAO could become the new underlying protocol for other cryptocurrencies.
Let’s talk about Tritium specifically…
The Tritium wallet will be a big one. The Tritium wallet gives people who stake their coins a chance to recover their interest rate if they lose their trust key. Currently staking starts at 0.5% interest and climbs to 3% over the course of a year. If a staking reward doesn’t come within a 24-hr period this resets back to 0.5%.
The tritium wallet will solve this problem by decaying the interest rate over time instead of resetting. It will also have a cleaner interface, be web compatible and activate the first steps towards building the 3DC.
Tritium isn’t as far away as some might think. According the Nexus team:
From a hardware perspective, the Nexus telecommunications system features three networks: mesh networks (on ground networks where users can run a node that increases network coverage), cube satellites and ground stations to communicate with the cube satellites.
And unlike the vast majority of cryptocurrencies, consensus in Nexus is not defined by the one channel. Consensus in Nexus is established by three groups: CPU block producers, GPU block producers and staking block producers.
This is incredibly important, because requiring three channels for consensus prevents the possibility of one channel from becoming too powerful — and even prevents a hypothetical 51% attack.
Last but not least: Nexus also features Quantum Resistance, which essentially takes in to consideration the commercialisation of Quantum Computers being able to reverse engineer the mathematical algorithm that cryptocurrencies are mined on.
Nexus counteracts this through the implementation of SK-1024 Hash for block generation, which is used by both the CPU and GPU miners to create new blocks. This is a big feature that ensures the Nexus network is future proof when it comes to network security.
Why Are We So Bullish?
We’re bullish because we believe in Nexus’ fundamentals. We’re bullish because we believe that Nexus can solve the scalability problem. And we’re bullish because we believe that this team has the knowledge, expertise and business connections to pull off their incredibly ambitious idea.
Nexus is actively building relationships within the aerospace industry to allow the hardware infrastructure to be compatible with its transaction system. Nexus is building the foundation to broadcast the blockchain and Nexus Network from space. Under existing hardware infrastructure, cryptocurrency is technically at the mercy of telecommunication and government technology industries.
With both the development of software and hardware, Nexus seeks to free humanity from centralized financial institutions.
From a marketing perspective, we’ve noticed that the team only announce major changes or events when they are close to launch — there is no artificial social media hype increasing the price here, and certainly no pictures of a skateboard with an Apple sticker on it (*cough* OmiseGo *cough*). This type of strategy is called ‘ninja news’. That is why by the time that big news is released (launching their first satellite into orbit for example) — it could be too late to jump on the racing train, or should we say ‘launching rocket’.
But right now? The rocket hasn’t taken off yet. The coal (propellant) is being slowly gathered, and the idea and mission themselves are getting slowly but surely more and more attention.
However, at some point in 2018, this rocket is going to take off and it’s going to take off fast. Then we will all see ourselves going to the moon — both figuratively and literally.
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