How Can Light, Plus Glass, Equal The Internet?

How Can Light, Plus Glass, Equal The Internet?


[MUSIC PLAYING] NAT: Hey, there. Welcome back to “Nat & Lo.” I am Nat. And you may notice that
Lo is not with me today. But that’s because she is
climbing mountains in Colombia. I will insert this
picture into the video now so you can be very
jealous along with me. Moving on, a couple of months
ago, we got to go aboard a ship and tour a factory to see how
underwater internet cables are made and installed at
the bottom of the ocean. We learned how these cables
use tiny fiber-optic strands the size of a hair to send your
photos, videos, and web pages. VIJAY: As little pulses
of light over which you impose your
digital information. [CRICKETS CHIRPING] NAT: Does this look
like the face of someone who fully understands
what they’ve just heard? Something that takes years of
studying to truly comprehend– pulses of light? I kept wondering, what’s
really going on here? I wanted to know, how do
fiber optics actually work? So I did some more research,
double-checked everything with Vijay, our
friend at Google, who’s a fiber optics expert. And in this video, I’m going
to try to answer the question, how can light plus glass
equal the internet? Light is an accurate but
also somewhat misleading word when it comes
to fiber optics just because it makes us
think of the light we know best, which is visible light. But this light is just
this small handful of wavelengths on the full
electromagnetic spectrum, all of which x-rays, microwaves,
radio waves, even Wi-Fi waves are technically light. The light that zooms through
these fiber-optic cables are infrared wavelengths–
invisible to our eyes, but for the sake of
this video, represented by these little light blobs. What also makes
this light different is that it’s made by
Light Amplification by Stimulated
Emission of Radiation, or in other words, a LASER. But this isn’t your average
laser pointer or techno dance party laser. The beam it produces
is extremely narrow and directed, meaning
even though the laser itself is only the size
of a grain of salt, its beam is powerful
enough to blind you. So for these reasons
and many others, it travels through
protected glass tubes, more pure than any
glass you’ve ever seen. For example, if you were on a
boat and the water below you was as clear as
optical fiberglass, you would be able
to see miles down to the bottom of the ocean,
just because any little piece of dust or other impurity
could disrupt this light from traveling through it. What’s amazing to me is that
when I look at this glass, it looks like just
one little piece. But really, it’s made
up of several parts. There’s a glass core
surrounded by a glass cladding, and then you have a plastic
buffer to protect it. So depending on what
type of fiber it is– is it going thousands of miles
under the bottom of the ocean, a few hundred miles on land,
maybe just a few hundred feet– all this affects how big
the various parts are and how the light
travels through it. For example, let’s say someone
comments “FIRST” on this video. And I guarantee you someone will
comment “FIRST” on this video just because I said that. That comment starts off
as electronic 1’s and 0’s. So to translate
those into light, if the fiber is just
a few miles long, a laser pulse is on and off,
on and off 10 billion times a second, an on equaling a
1 and an off equaling a 0. And these light 1’s and 0’s
then race through the core, bouncing off the cladding,
zigzagging their way through to be,
literally, “FIRST.” But for these underwater
internet cables, the light has to go
really long distances, so it’s a bit more complicated. The laser is actually
left on the entire time. And then an external
device, a phase modulator, adjusts it 100 to 200
billion times a second. And it doesn’t bounce
around because the core it’s traveling through is only
the size of a red blood cell, making it essentially
a straight shot. But here’s the thing. It’s actually far
more complicated than even this description. To see what I mean, we need to
strap on our infrared goggles and slow things down a bit. You see, each glass
strand can actually handle not just one, but 100,
different infrared wavelengths traveling through
it at the same time, meaning it’s not just one
highway with one lane. It’s like a highway
with 100 lanes with bumper-to-bumper
traffic whizzing by at 450 million
miles per hour. And that’s not even
all because right now, researchers are
developing new techniques to make fibers with not just
one core, but seven, meaning that’s like seven highways,
all with 100 lanes, all inside one tiny
little piece of glass. So while the internet is still
a massive physical network with large infrastructure,
computers, and data centers, and ships installing heavy
steel-wrapped cables, the more I kept
zooming in, the more I realized how the real
massiveness of the internet is at the microscopic level, the
level beyond human perception. Just touch some of
your hairs right now and realize something
that small– that’s all it takes
to send anything you want to anybody in the world. Thanks for watching. And if you have
any more questions about how fiber optics
work, leave a comment below. And Vijay has agreed
to answer them. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Danny Hutson

100 thoughts on “How Can Light, Plus Glass, Equal The Internet?

  1. I am beyond impressed by all the thoughtful questions you've been asking in the comments. Thank you! And many, many thanks to Vijay for answering so many of them. Please give the comments a read and you'll discover so much more about fiber optics!

  2. can vijay explain us about total internal reflection
    I studied that data is sent miles through the optic fibres by the laws of total internal reflection

  3. how do they connect two pieces of fibre together and still maintain the glass to be clear enough for the light to travel through, without any disruption.🙂

  4. Feel like lo's absence is great.. What the hell does she even do another than wiggle her head.. Nat does all the heavy work in my opinion..

  5. hi Vijay now telephones also connected through fiber optic and I would like to know how fiber optic converts data into audible frequency?

  6. Hi … i love your videos its so inspirational …. can you make a video about VR technology past, present, and future <3

  7. fu and everything you do may you be replaced after writing program…………..came up with social networking just expected either being killed or well being rewarded not watching far ass Amy Schumer make a mockery of what I was going for…….burn in hell no one will believe me but sadly the crazy shits true

  8. when some data gets transfered thro cables under the sea nat said that some kind of modulator was used . since the modulator sends the infra red waves without any kind of flickering how do then 0 and 1 get differentiated ?

  9. Since Radio waves and Light waves are all EM waves. Why are there differences in transmission rates? They all travel at more or less the same speed and it is even slower in a glass cable. If data loss is more common in Radiowaves, how are we able to watch a video or view an image completely without any identifiable loss ???

  10. It is an awesome video & super-impressed me!! But, I have a question. I am a non-technical person so please forgive if the question pisses you out! Well, my question is –

    How fast moving internet access can be? I mean, is there any way to enhance the internet speed than what we sense now?

  11. now i realized how important to going to optical communication system class. not to late to catch up all the materies
    anyway source for fiber optic divide by two, LASER and LED.

  12. You could have explained about total internal reflection, which is the primary reason why we need a core and a cladding and not just a single stand. Light passing through a single strand of glass will fall out unlike the core and cladding combination in which total internal reflection occurs because of the difference in refractive indices.

  13. Nat, that's what I'm thinking how a tiny glass can do all of these amazing things. Thank you for your awesome video 🙂

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  15. Just discovered your YT channel yesterday, searching for material for a new training course on Fiber-To-The-Home I'll provide to novices. Absolutely awesome work you're doing here, Ladies. Congrats !

  16. Thank you Nat for creating such awesome video. Thank you Vijay for being so generous sharing knowledge & explaining each small query. Appreciate !!

  17. Let me preface by saying I am not proficient with technology. I recently read that Google's FASTER underwater cable has a capacity of 60tbps, which is about 7.5 terabytes/sec? I also read somewhere that 7.5GB/hr is how much data it takes to stream one hour of Netflix ultra HD. Does this mean that FASTER has the bandwidth to sustain ~60,000 customers watching Netflix ultra HD every hour? Does that number seem low?

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