How heavy is the Internet?
Using publicly available information, for the first time in the world, we have precisely and scientifically calculated the weight of the Internet
Using publicly available information, for the first time in the world, we have precisely and scientifically calculated the weight of the Internet. Obviously this information is only really useful to someone attempting to work out the cost of posting the Internet somewhere, perhaps to North Korea. Still, the casual reader -- hi there! -- may still enjoy learning just how damn heavy the thing is.
Around 570,937,778 computers are believed to be connected to the Internet, according to the Internet Systems Consortium. That's an awful lot of heavy hardware jacked into the idiot pipes. In fact, at an average of around 40kg per machine, including your monitor, it all adds up to a staggering mound of electronics. Obviously some of these machines are laptops. Many desktop machines will have printers or scanners plugged into them though, offsetting the difference.
Servers are the place where all your 'Internet' is stored. Picture them as electronic lending libraries, only your book is never on loan, or smeared in sick. Instead, servers serve up the pages you ask for when you type those addresses into your browser window. As you can see, there's a fair number of them. Netcraft estimates there are 175,480,931 servers worldwide.
This is one of the few definitive figures available on the weight of cabling that makes up the Internet. It's the approximate weight of the 15,000km TAT-14 cable that links the US to France, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and the UK. The cable weighs 5.8kg per metre.
It's the must-have swagger-toy. If you haven't got an iPhone these days, you're considered an untouchable, unable to advance through the social classes. It's the modern-day equivalent of not having a head. Quite a lot of iPhones have been sold, 42 million in total, and all of them connect to the Internet. Collectively they weigh an absolutely mindblowing 6 million kilograms.
BlackBerry: the iPhone for people who like to 'do business'. The 'business people' have spent a huge amount on BlackBerrys. RIM has sold over 50 million of the critters since the gadget was first introduced. The weight soon adds up!
These viruses don't actually weigh anything, but we thought we'd give them an honorable mention since they're a huge part of the Internet you know and love. There are over 287,524 viruses available on the Internet for free installation on your Windows PC.
Web sites are also an important part of the Internet experience, but they don't really weigh very much either. Most of them are electrical impulses, magnetic stripes on hard disks, or electrons floating about the place, giddy with excitement. We've already covered servers, which make up the bulk of the weight that Web sites occupy, but we're not really sure how to weigh these Web sites, they kept slipping off the scales. The Internet Archive stores over 85 billion pages, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The Internet is very heavy indeed. To give you some idea of just how heavy the internet is, imagine an absolutely enormous tower of computers and servers and cables reaching up into the sky like the evil fingers of some apocalyptic demon. Now imagine sparks, thunder, electrical storms. And, on top of it all, an otter screaming pointlessly. That is the closest you are likely to come to visualising the Internet.