A while ago I was having a Skype conversation with my mother. After we’d caught up on trivial matters she expressed her amazement at how technology was able to beam a picture of me into the air, and have some satellite bounce it through to her; crossing many thousands of miles and an ocean in an instant. After sharing her astonishment for a second I had to break it to her: This is not how it happens, and the actual story is much more fascinating.
You see, there is a massive global network of cables lying on the ocean floor moving the data around. Satellites are merely used as a backup because they’re relatively slow. The construction of the submarine network started as early as 1854 when the entrepreneur Cyrus West Field proposed hooking up Ireland and Newfoundland with a copper wire, establishing the world’s first transatlantic telegraph connection. Due to breakage and other setbacks he had to try a couple of times, but his persistence paid off in 1866.
The modern heir to Field’s cable is the TAT-14, an unparalleled piece of engineering capable of sending more than one terabit per second through the Atlantic. (Just as a comparison: Field’s cable did a couple of words per minute, approximately 250 bits. So the TAT-14 can handle more than four billion times as much data.)
So perhaps this print is right in claiming it to be the eighth world wonder.
(The Eighth Wonder Of The World courtesy of atlantic-cable.com.)