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Chapter 3: The Intricacies of Ordinals on the Blockchain
Ordinals introduce a transformative concept to the Bitcoin and Qtum blockchains: the ability to uniquely identify each satoshi within a transaction. This is achieved through a methodical numbering system that assigns a distinct ordinal number to every satoshi based on its position in the blockchain history. The core idea is to give each satoshi an identity, akin to a serial number, which persists irrespective of the satoshi's transaction history.
The granularity offered by ordinals extends beyond mere identification; it enables the meticulous tracking of individual satoshis across the blockchain. As these satoshis move from one address to another, they carry their ordinal numbers with them, creating a traceable path that can be followed through transactions, wallets, and blocks.
Once an ordinal is inscribed with specific data or metadata, the blockchain's immutable nature ensures that this information is permanent. An inscribed satoshi becomes a unique digital artifact, distinguishable from all other satoshis, and this uniqueness is maintained for as long as the blockchain exists.
Creating inscriptions involves embedding content directly into a satoshi through a transaction's witness data. This content can range from simple text to complex HTML, images, or SVG files, making the satoshi a carrier of rich information. The MIME type included in the transaction clarifies the nature of the inscribed content, ensuring correct interpretation by software that later reads the inscription.
The use of the transaction witness for inscriptions is pivotal. It serves as a flexible space within the transaction structure where arbitrary data can be included without affecting the transaction's external behavior. The witness data is essential for validation but does not directly impact the transaction's execution path, making it an ideal location for housing inscription data.
These tools are vital for both end-users and developers interested in exploring and utilizing inscribed satoshis.
The ordinal theory is the conceptual framework that underpins the practical application of ordinals. It provides the methodology for locating an inscribed unspent transaction output (UTXO) and tracking its trajectory across the blockchain. This capability is fundamental for the exchange of inscribed satoshis, allowing them to be traded, sold, or gifted while maintaining the integrity of their associated inscriptions.