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Ethereum Merge goes live — ETHW developments, merge-inspired NFTs and more

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Ethereum Merge goes live — ETHW developments, merge-inspired NFTs and more

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Prior to the mega crypto event, the ETH mining community had recently announced their plans to hard fork the network by continuing the proof-of-work version of the blockchain, which was being labelled as EthereumPoW (ETHW). 

The Ethereum Merge is now live. The network has now officially switched the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism.

The consensus layer of the Beacon Chain and execution layer of Ethereum's Mainnet merged today at block 15537393, which resulted in the long-awaited Merge. The network will not rely on the proof-of-work consensus method anymore.  Ethereum Foundation live streamed The Merge on YouTube.
Prior to the mega crypto event, the ETH mining community had recently announced their plans to hard fork the network by continuing the proof-of-work version of the blockchain, which was being labelled as EthereumPoW (ETHW).
Moreover, several prominent mining pools, exchanges and wallets also announced support for the potential hard fork. A dynamic NFT collection was also launched that was to transform in wallets as The Merge took place.
ETHW developments
A couple of days ago, the team behind EthereumPoW (ETHW) announced its plans to hard fork the network soon after the Ethereum Merge. They will continue mining on the PoW version of the blockchain, effectively splintering the Ethereum mainnet. The team also provided a timeline and chain of events leading up to the launch of EthereumPow.
"ETHW mainnet will happen within 24 hours after the Merge," read a tweet from the official @EthereumPow Twitter account. In the following tweets, it was also revealed that EthereumPoW would be taken live 2,048 empty blocks after the Merge block. This offset will ensure that the chain is the longest version of the ETHW blockchain and prevent duplicate blocks on both ETH and ETHW.
"Therefore, the Merge block + 2049 will be the 1st block on ETHW that may contain any transactions," reads another tweet from the official thread.
Miners, exchanges, and hardware wallets support ETHW 
While critics are questioning the need and motive for EthereumPow, prominent mining companies, crypto exchanges, and wallets have announced support for ETHW. For instance, mining pool operators BTC.com, Poolin, F2Pool and Nanopool will support EthereumPoW after The Merge. In addition to these major players, several smaller firms have also joined the movement. In all, nearly 20 mining pools have agreed to participate in EthereumPoW.
Besides mining pools, many leading crypto exchanges, such as Coinbase, BitFinex and Poloniex, have listed ETHW on their platforms.
Hardware wallets have also announced support for ETHW, with several operators employing a wait-and-watch strategy. In an interview with CoinTelegraph, the chief security officer of Ledger, Charles Guillemet, said that the company will "not support an ETH Proof of Work fork on day 1" because there are several "technical aspects that need to be evaluated to ensure it's safe for users."
Wallet operators also warned of scammers who may ask ETH holders to purchase ETHW or transfer funds to a random wallet address to "complete the upgrade" and disappear after receiving the funds. Custodial firms and Ethereum have reassured users that anyone holding ETH on an exchange or in a self-custodial wallet will NOT need to do anything to prepare for The Merge. If an individual, application, exchange, or wallet asks you to complete any steps to receive ETHW post the hard fork, ensure these instructions come from verified sources.
Merge-inspired NFTs
The hype around The Merge led to the creation of an ETH 2.0-inspired NFT collection titled 'Proof of Merge'. The digital artworks are the brainchild of Andreessen Horowitz engineering and investment partners Michael Blau and Mason Hall. They are dynamic NFTs that evolved through the various stages of The Merge, eventually culminating in a ying-yang symbol after the successful completion of the Merge.
Further, only wallets that minted the NFT before The Merge were able to hold these digital assets. Therefore, they acted as proof of attendance, a way to signify you were into crypto before the Ethereum Merge.
Live stream of The Merge
As with prior testnet merges, the actual Merge was also streamed live on YouTube. Users who join the live stream two hours before The Merge could also participate in a POAP event and receive exclusive NFTs that will serve as proof of attendance and souvenirs from the live stream.
Conclusion
The Ethereum Merge is upon us. The switch to POS will make Ethereum 99 percent more energy efficient and usher in a new era of possibilities for the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. After the switch to POS, users can look forward to several more milestones, including the unlocking of staked ETH, the introduction of sharding and eventually, a throughput of 100,000 transactions per second.
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