Posts Tagged Internet


Posted by on Saturday, 3 August, 2013
Balloons for Google



I mentioned (last post) that Google defies gravity. Its latest gravity defying stunt, Project Loon, is cool, cool, cool.


I said.. what was it? – flip,  flip,  flip – here it is –  I said Google would disappoint you just like all the others. Nobody pumps out miracles forever. Google will crush your hopes. Again and again. Because Google is uninhibited when it is in creative mode. It doesn’t give a fig what you think. Nor does it care if it gets egg goo on its face either. It’s looking into the far future, something that twitchy investors don’t like much. And over that dark horizon there are some real wonders. One of them: Google’s Project Loon.

(That’s an n on the end. Project Loo was discontinued.  Image problems. This is Loon as in balloon. Okay?)

Where was I?

Google’s boundless ambitions to connect to every mud hut on the planet had hit a wall. There’s no Internet service in MudHutVille and not much hope of it any time soon. No fiber,  no copper,  no satellites,  no money to buy same.  No Google,  no Android,  no Adwords,  no Chromebooks.

What to do?


With enough balloons and a lot of google-ish ingenuity, thought Google,  maybe the Internet could reach all over the world without rockets and satellites .

Less, anyway

A  simple villager freaks out

How would this work?

That’s the elegant part. Google was looking for a way to get up there without all the muss and fuss of booster engines, without the ear splitting noise,  and without dumping the CO2 equivalent of 43 Detroits into the atmosphere. Google’s “Loons” are delicate, light, whispy things; they drift quietly through the air and are steered by rising or descending into prevailing air currents which do the pushing. Of course, balloons don’t get nearly as high as satellites. But with enough of them in the right locations, they can form a big network and do the job, can’t they?

Maybe. But this is an iffy proposition. Balloons can fail,  prevailing winds sometimes don’t blow right,  electronics packages go flooey. Lots can go wrong.  This atmospheric dance of the balloons would have to be able to compensate for all kinds of screw ups with extras of everything which can be deployed just as needed.  Still with Google’s great  experience running its many Internet “properties”, wouldn’t it be a  logical choice to pull this off?

The project is in a very early stage right now. Google will take its time  and try to make sure that whatever system it creates will work as well as its other fine efforts. There’s no guarantee that the project will ultimately succeed though MISTER ScienceAintSoBad thinks it has a great chance of doing so.

If  you live in a mud hut,  sweep the floor and figure out where to put your sit down log. You’ll be surfing before you know it.


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 Image creds:  The first image is from a video Google posted online. The second one – the line drawing – that’s by me (copyright 2013, D Chidakel)

Underwater Communications: A 21st Century Upgrade

Posted by on Saturday, 27 February, 2010

A Cable Of Light For Undersea Exploration


Texting while driving a submarine? The captain should be so lucky.

Submarine communication is slow and dorky. If it works at all. Electromagnetic waves  get kinda sulky in the ocean; they dissipate too fast to be useful for underwater communications so subs rely on beeps and boops – audio signals – to keep in touch. Which is HOPELESSLY slow. You can’t do ANY of the things we surface dwellers are used to.  Like voice or video.

And, obviously, the cloud computing metaphor’s a little off down there with fish swimming by the porthole.

That’s why robot submersibles (remotely operated vehicles) tend to have an umbilicus – a stiff, heavy cable – which carries transmissions to and from the surface for data and for control of the submersible, itself.

"Squid" submersible (See all the cables?)

But a big cable isn’t exactly an invitation to live wild and free. It grossly limits how far the submersible can go and the kinds of missions it can undertake.

Norman E Farr, a senior engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has, with his team, worked out a  solution – an optical/acoustic network. It is high speed, wireless, and, apparently,  reliable. Farr and team expect to get started in July with the first large scale deployment of this VERY cool “underwater Internet”.

While “breakthrough” is an overused term, this project may just be one – a breakthrough in underwater communications.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10

Credits for photo of submersible: / CC BY 2.0