One of the fundamental questions many people have about Bitcoin revolves around the tokens themselves. Questions about its value, security and history, all eventually lead to one place: Where do bitcoins come from?
While traditional money is created through (central) banks, bitcoins are “mined” by Bitcoin miners: network participants that perform extra tasks. Specifically, they chronologically order transactions by including them in the Bitcoin blocks they find. This prevents a user from spending the same bitcoin twice; it solves the “double spend” problem.
Skipping over the technical details, finding a block most closely resembles a type of network lottery. For each attempt to try and find a new block, which is basically a random guess for a lucky number, a miner has to spend a tiny amount of energy. Most of the attempts fail and a miner will have wasted that energy. Only once about every ten minutes will a miner somewhere succeed and thus add a new block to the blockchain.
This also means that any time a miner finds a valid block, it must have statistically burned much more energy for all the failed attempts. This “proof of work” is at the heart of Bitcoin’s success.