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What is Blockchain – Essentially, block chain is a database that is distributed and manages a continuously growing list of records.
Those records are organized into blocks and each block has a link to the previous block. This is done through a complex system of rules that take the previous block and all the transaction records in the current block and create what is called a hash.
This discussion is a great primer on how Bitcoin is implemented using blockchain: http://bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/12427/can-someone-explain-how-the-bitcoin-blockchain-works
Why is this important – Trust! Don Tapscott calls blockchain the trust protocol. With an open ledger of transactions that show there was a transaction but not necessarily the details, the need for third party firms diminishes. The possible applications include currency, smart contracts, identity information, titles, deeds, and much more.
Why is this safe – Since it’s distributed, and each block is linked to the previous block you would have to hack each block in the chain. Not only that, but you would have to hack 51% of all the computers or nodes using the that blockchain at the same time.