Dec
06
2008
Written by: Craig Haynie

I recently found myself traveling 95 MPH on an access road here in Atlanta, zooming by all the folks going much slower on the interstate to my left. While percentage wise this was not a great deal faster than I usually travel I realized that it sure felt much faster (which was exhilarating but that’s beside the point).

That got me to thinking (for some strange reason) about the speed in which email and other web traffic travels. Most people (including myself up to that point) have never given it a lot of thought so I decided to crunch a few numbers and explain it relative to something we are all very familiar with; driving.

Let’s say you are located in Buford, GA and send an email to a friend in Melbourne, Australia. Better yet, let’s say that was me (cause it was). Once that email is about to begin its journey from server to server I think it probably turns on some rock and roll, adjusts its seat and mirrors and makes sure it is buckled in nice and tight. It probably closes its eyes and might even say a little prayer … because it knows it is about to be blasted 10,200 miles in less than TWO TENTHS of a SECOND! That’s right, this email will travel 10,200 miles in 0.12 seconds!

That is equivalent to:

85,000 Miles per Second
5.1 MILLION Miles per Minute
306 MILLION Miles per Hour!

Blinking your eye takes approximately 0.35 seconds (somewhere between 300 and 400 milliseconds). Your email can make it to your friend’s neighborhood, realize it forgot the casserole, return home to get it, and make it back in time for dinner. All “in the blink of an eye”.

The fastest thing in the universe is the speed of light which is 186,000 miles per second. An email makes it to the other side of the planet at nearly half the speed of light.

So the next time you are traveling at 75 MPH think about this … If you were driving to Australia (think buoyant, BE buoyant) over 4 Million emails could be sent and received before you arrived.

Google Maps actually recommends Kayaking to Australia. Here is a link to Google’s directions for doing so, in case you are interested.

Atlanta to Melbourne via Kayak

Kayak to Australia

Kayak to Australia

(For all you math nerds, please keep in mind this illustration is not “scientifically accurate”, it’s based on some pinging, a traceroute, a little network research (Check out the massive fiber Primus has laid deep in the ocean!), and basic math using a cheap calculator)

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