El term block height o block height in English, refers to current block number on a blockchain. That is, it defines the position in the chain of a confirmed block that is part of a blockchain.
As we well know, a blockchain is made up of blocks that are chained or linked together through mathematical and cryptographic processes. Each of those blocks is defined, among other things, by a number that identifies it within the blockchain. In this way, when using a block explorer, it is only necessary to enter this number to examine it. This greatly facilitates navigation through the information contained in said blockchain.
In a blockchain, The first generated block it is known as Genesis Block and its height is equal to zero. From this, every time transactions are made in the network, they are grouped and added in new blocks, each one linked to the previous one. Therefore, the block height will always be a different integer and greater than zero.
For example, the Bitcoin network has a block height that exceeds 656.167. But because these are generated approximately every 10 minutes, the height is constantly changing. The same case occurs for example in Ethereum o Litecoin, where the height of your blocks changes as new ones are generated thanks to the process of mining is..
Importance of block height
You will surely wonder Why is it important to know the block height of a blockchain?. Well, the truth is that This data also allows us to know how often new blocks are discovered and added to the chain of a cryptocurrency.. Furthermore, each time new blocks are added after the one containing a specific transaction, it is confirmed. The number of confirmations received being equal to the number of blocks added.
The cryptocurrencies, which are completely digital and do not exist in the physical world, they work and are contained within information encrypted in blockchains. This information is composed in a sequence of blocks, where the last block of the blockchain contributes to the generation of a new one, which will be linked together.
The block height also serves to identify a particular block. This information is also used to apply functions such as Timelock o time lock. In these functions, you can specify a certain block time or height to restrict the use of bitcoins until this condition is reached. However, it is possible that two different blocks may be the same height, which occurs when two miners generate blocks at the same time. But only one will be validated and confirmed by the network, while the other will not be added to the blockchain. Thus, the block height should not be taken as the only identification, but rather should be based on the header hash it owns. Since this is more relevant within the blockchain.
Another important reason why the block height should be known is that it lets us know the length of the blockchain. And therefore, the acceptance it has had within the community and users. Thus, we will have a vision of the credibility, difficulty, popularity and quality of the network's consensus.
Bitcoin in comparison with Ethereum, has a lower block height. But this is not indicative of Ethereum being better or more secure. The fact that Bitcoin has a lower height is due to the fact that the difficulty of the network is more demanding, so the generation of blocks is carried out approximately every 10 minutes. So the more proof of work is spent on producing blocks for a blockchain, the more secure it is.
Another important point is the block height helps the cryptocurrency protocol make the necessary adjustments to the mining difficulty. This allows to improve the security of the cryptocurrency and maintain a controlled inflation rate.