Yes Bitcoin split today. Much of the news and reporting on what is happening is quite wrong. BCC isn’t an “alt” coin. Its not a launch of a new coin using bitcoin’s existing ledger as a distribution model. I’ve read these things lately in the news fury, but its misleading and wrong.
Bitcoin is secured by people mining its network. Miners secure transactions and make the system work. Miners also use different versions of Bitcoin. Many of these different versions are compatible and are called “soft forks”. A version that is not compatible is called a “hard fork”. People mining “Bitcoin Cash” switched to a version that would become incompatible (a hard fork) this morning at 5:20am. At 5:20am, as planned, Bitcoin Cash became incompatible and has now split away from everyone else. From this point on, transactions seen on this new incompatible network can’t show up on the other versions everyone else is still running.
This comes down to mining difficulty. An analogy here will help. Think of mining difficulty like the gears on your bicycle. As you go faster, you gear up. The higher gears have much more resistance for you to push against, but that’s what you want when you get moving fast. Bitcoin similarly “gears up”. As more people mine it, it becomes much harder to mine. So if I were to take Bitcoin as is and try to run a hard fork of it on my pc, I could never overcome the difficulty and find new blocks. My version would be stagnant and unusable for processing transactions- never finding another block.
Back to the analogy. To change gears on a bike, you need to do a little peddling right? A couple turns at least. So suppose I swapped out superman on a fast moving bike in a super high gear and put in a baby in his place. The baby won’t have the power to even push the peddles enough to change to a lower gear. The bike will grind to a halt in time as the baby can’t possibly nudge the peddles even a bit when they’re in superman’s gear. If the baby is strong enough to at least get a few revolutions of the pedal around, he’ll be able to gear down and keep the bike moving forward.
Photo from Wired. Too perfect to pass up for this analogy!