Why prevents bitcoins from being sent from the testnet to mainnet?

  • 2
    What prevents EUR from being sent to a USD bank account? They're different currencies; you need to exchange them as they have different market valuation. – Pieter Wuille Mar 22 '18 at 19:50
  • But is it possible to exchange testnet coins for mainnet coins? – Errol Mar 22 '18 at 19:59
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    @Errol: Sure, if you could find somebody to exchange with. Likewise, you could exchange Monopoly dollars for US dollars, if you could find someone willing to make the trade. But nobody is going to want to do that, since testnet coins, like Monopoly dollars, aren't worth anything. – Nate Eldredge Mar 22 '18 at 20:33
  • We actually do exchange dollars for Monopoly dollar ... plus plastic pieces and cardboard and other stuff at the toy stores. – Osias Jota Mar 22 '18 at 21:44

Testnet and mainnet are two different blockchains, and their coins are incompatible.

A transaction takes outputs that already exist on the blockchain, and re-assign them as outputs to different addresses. Think of a blockchain as a database. Let's say testnet has outputs A, B, and C. They are in the testnet database. However, mainnet has never heard of these outputs. They simply don't exist in the mainnet database. Any transaction that is submitted to mainnet using A, B, or C will be immediately rejected. Likewise, if you submit the same transaction to testnet, then the transaction goes through...but it goes through on testnet. Mainnet is still none the wiser.

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