Last night the Bitcoin blockchain experienced a divergence. So what exactly does this mean and how did it come about? At the moment there is not need to worry, the problem has mostly been resolved for the time being by the developers and mining pool operators. Your coins are safe and Bitcoin is operating more or less as usual.
The problem arose last night when a block that exceeded the block size limit was mined by a Slush’s pool running the most up to date version of Bitcoin, 0.8. Pools that were running the old version, 0.7, were unable to process this block and thus rejected it. The 0.8 miners went on with one blockchain, while the miners running 0.7 went off on another.
The developers came to the conclusion that the easiest fix was to return everyone t0 the 0.7 blockchain. This divergence had a pretty big effect as MtGox suspended deposits as did many other Bitcoin merchants. Not to worry though, if you sent coins during this time they should work themselves out within the network and not be lost.
I believe this has accelerated the discussion amongst the developers of doing a hard fork to deal with the block size limit. However, that is still a ways off and I don’t care to speculate as to what they’ll end up doing there. They have announced that they plan on releasing a version 0.8.1 that deals directly with the backwards compatibility issue.
I just wanted to get this post out as I still only had the emergency update post up. The following links will provide more information on the issue and what went down last night: