Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Internet Obsolete?

“The history of the internet shows you cannot predict its real impacts but we know they will be huge.”

- Prof. Tony Doyle, technical director of the grid project.

Will the internet soon be obsolete? That is what's being suggested by both the Times and Telegraph with the upcoming application of "The Grid."

According to the Times:

At speeds about 10,000 times faster than a typical broadband connection, “the grid” will be able to send the entire Rolling Stones back catalogue from Britain to Japan in less than two seconds.

The Telegraph reports that
"The power of the grid will be unlocked this summer with the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a new particle accelerator designed to investigate how the universe began."
Both say that the day the the Grid became necessary
"...after scientists at Cern, based near Geneva, realised the internet would not have the capacity to capture such huge volumes of data."
The start up day will be the same for the Particle Accelerator unless a lawsuit currently ongoing in Hawaii derails the venture for fears of the uncertainty of what will happen when the accelerator starts up. The lawsuit names as defendents the US Energy Department and a host of American sub contractors who if the injunction goes through will cripple the activities of CERN by not allowing CERN the use of the American made equipment involved.

The major concern behind the lawsuit is essentially the destruction of the world vis a vis the creation of a black hole that will destroy the planet and entire universe, or the conversion of our dimension into strange matter from the creation of strangelet.

Most scientists disagree. From the NY Times: Dr. Arkani-Hamed said concerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”

If the experiment goes through as expected even by this autumn most British University Students will be hooked up to the Grid as opposed to the Internet. No numbers are yet available on the number of academic facilities within the US who are hooked up to the Grid, although 11 centers have been established in the US and Canada Europe and the Far East.

But let's not get too excited yet, the primary use for this grid will be analyzing the mountainous data produced by the accelerator, data that will consume a majority of the capabilities of the Grid.

As the Times article says: "Although the grid itself is unlikely to be directly available to domestic internet users, many telecoms providers and businesses are already introducing its pioneering technologies. One of the most potent is so-called dynamic switching, which creates a dedicated channel for internet users trying to download large volumes of data such as films. In theory this would give a standard desktop computer the ability to download a movie in five seconds rather than the current three hours or so."

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