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The atom bomb is the mother of the Internet

Ross O. Storey | Aug. 11, 2009
The anniversaries of atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki come as the internet flows like water and electricity.

When we turn on the tap, we expect potable water to flow out; when we flick a switch we want the light to go on; were not interested in how the water got there, or how the electricity was produced and directed to the switch.

These utility services have, in the developed western world at least, become a basic requirement rather than a luxury.

Our internet connections at home and at the office have now become like water and power; we likewise expect to be connected when we want, without needing to know the intricacies of the technology that makes this 21st century marvel happen. Perhaps its because I am 56 years old, but I continue to be amazed at this internet system that connects the worlds computers and which is taken for granted by the younger generation today. Too few people realize that the internet owes its birth to the atom bomb and, coincidentally, last week (Thursday, 6 August, and Sunday, 9 August Singapores birthday) marked the 64th anniversaries of when the United States became the first and only world power to date, to use the atom bomb to take human life in war. The internet was devised so the US could maintain military communications, even if nuclear weapons were to wipe out key cities, the webs diversity would mean command and control could continue. You could say the atom bomb, the cold war and the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (mad Google it if you want to know more) was the mother of the internet.

Major new Singapore data centre

Equinox Data CentreI came to ponder these thoughts after a recent tour of a major new data centre in Singapore, the second one to be installed by Equinix ( the seventh in Asia), bringing to 43 the number of such major facilities the organization manages across the planet, equating to a total of more than three million square feet of data centre space.

During the fascinating tour, one of their executives told me that 90 per cent of the worlds internet traffic flows through an Equinix data centre, or, as their brochure puts it more than 90 per cent of the worlds internet routes run through our veins. And yet, few people outside the IT industry would likely recognize the Equinix name. It doesnt appear on any of the exteriors of its data centres, it restricts what announcements it makes because its clients dont want anyone to know where their priceless data is stored. Yet, internet users and web surfers would be up in arms, if any of the data centres were to catastrophically fail.


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