With the launch of every new blockchain comes a new block explorer website to understand.
Block explorer sites offer real-time updates on network activity. Normally, they feature information on blocks, transactions and fees. On Ethereum 2.0, the block explorers depict a very different array of metrics involving epochs, slots and attestations.
But even for those familiar with the usual Ethereum explorers such as Etherscan, Etherchain and Blockchair, the new sites for tracking Eth 2.0 activity may be difficult to decipher. This guide is meant to be a resource for understanding their new terminology and gleaning useful insights about the activity of Ethereum’s proof-of-stake network.
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For anyone unfamiliar with blockchain explorers in general, this guide will go over the basic details of reading an Ethereum 2.0 blockchain explorer. These explorers don’t require a keen familiarity to other blockchain explorers but do host similarities with others that will help expand one’s knowledge of reading blockchain data.
See also: Ethereum 2.0 Beacon Chain Goes Live
We’ll go over four basic metrics tracked by two different block explorer sites, BeaconScan and beaconcha.in. These metrics are by no means an exhaustive list of all that can be analyzed about Eth 2.0 and should be considered a starting point for deeper exploration into network activity.
Unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum, Ethereum 2.0 progresses in epochs, not blocks. An epoch is a bundle of up to 32 blocks that actors on the network (called validators) propose and attest to over a period lasting roughly 6.4 minutes. An epoch, along with all the blocks of which it is composed, is only considered finalized after the progression of two more epochs after it.
See also: A Day in the Life of an Ethereum 2.0 Validator
Related: What Is Proof-of-Stake?
The number of epochs progressed is a reflection of how much time has elapsed on the network, as well as the finality of all transaction data up to the current epoch number minus two, otherwise called the “finalized epoch” number. (See image above.)
This metric can be a useful indicator of any network abnormalities. Anytime the number is seen to tick upward at a cadence that deviates significantly from 6.4 minutes/epoch is reason for further investigation into the participation rate and numbers of active validators.
Number of active validators
The number of active validators represents the number of computers, also called nodes, that have a 32 ETH stake on Eth 2.0 and that have passed the activation queue for entry into the network. As of Jan. 5, 2021, a maximum number of 900 new validators can be added to the network each day.
A total of 262,144 validators is needed at minimum for Eth 2.0 to advance to its next phase of development in which 64 mini-blockchains, called “shards,” will be spawned. At the current rate of 900 new validators being added to the…
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