The Internet’s Facelift

Technology is obsolete. Right when you think you have the newest gadget on the market, it becomes yesterday’s news in a flash. Right when you think the internet couldn’t get any faster, scientists reveal a newer wave of internet technology. According to IBM, a powerful new radio telescope capable of generating more data in a single day than the entire internet is being discussed. Although the concept has yet to leave the cutting-room floor, new architectures are being developed so that construction can begin around 2017. According to IBM researcher Ronald Luijten, as reported by CNN.com, “One of the goals is to search what happened at the time of the Big Bang, 13 billion years ago.” Another reason for the radio telescope, titled SKA or Square Kilometer Array, is to eliminate the space, money and resources needed to power today’s millions of standard servers. The video below helps explain SKA in further detail.

Apparently, the information gathered by SKA is the equivalent of one Exabyte, or one quintillion bytes. That is roughly twice the amount of information generated by the World Wide Web in a standard day. While that certainly sounds exciting to the daily web surfer, the conflict that arises with such a formidable piece of equipment is the amount of energy needed to power it up. “We need to be very creative,” says Luijten of the brainstorming process. “They would use so much space and use so much energy that we couldn’t afford to build the machines let alone operate them.” While the technologies that IBM produces in creating this behemoth telescope will help solve some of the world’s data problems, the telescope itself will not be completed before 2024. Having the power of the entire internet at our fingertips would be a revolutionary chapter in the book of technology. But the energy needed to harvest this raw power could be a completely different story.