The Internet weighs the same as a strawberry
POSTED BY Kirgy July 13th, 2013 : 0 COMMENTS
If we put the clocks back two thousands years and travelled to Petra in the middle east, home of the one of the seven wonders of the world; the ancient library that was destroyed, we would have found ten of thousand of books. Books of knowledge of the age and ages gone, collected from as far as their reach across the lands. A library of such magnitude would have weighed tonnes and tonnes in weight. But when we look at the internet of today – a mere 50 years at it’s oldest, we find streams of data and writing that would have put Petra to shame. And the weight of such a digital global library? About the same as a strawberry. But how can all this weigh so little?
When you go to a website or download a movie, or anything else you do on the internet, you are using electricity to send and receive information. That youtube video you just watched didn’t appear there by magic, it is stored on a server – a computer dedicated to serving you content through the internet.
Now days, most of the data we store on the internet is stored using hard drives and flash storage (such as solid state drives). The way computers store information is through a system called binary – zeros and one’s; basically servers hold this information electronically as electrical charges of whether a binary digit is there (1) or not (0).
What this boils down to physically, is that the entire of the internet we know and love is stored using electrons; the subatomic particle which ‘orbits’ the nucleus of an atom. The interesting part is these electrons actually have a weight. The weight of an electron is very small, so small in fact, that the exact weight of one can’t be determined accurately through any modern scientific methods.
The whole internet, excluding your own computers, phones and tablets that are used to access the internet, uses roughly 40 gigawatts to function the 75-100 million servers, which equates to on average 36 nuclear power stations to just keep everything running. Given the best known weight of an electron is 5.66990463 × 10-6 grams, we can then calculate a rough weight of these electrons which the internet consists of, which brings a weight of around 60 grams – the weight of a strawberry.
Of course, these measurements take a lot of assumptions, and fluctuate dependent of many many factors. Regardless, the astonishing reality is that our entire connected knowledge weighs about the same as a humble strawberry.