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Ballistic Internet Interconnect

Increase Internet Capacity, Flexibility and Security With Big Guns
  [vote for,

The internet is a tricky thing to consider in its entirety. On a basic level, you might have a GHz microwave WiFi connection to a local access point, that's connected by copper ethernet cable through a few switches and routers to a fiber optic connection. At some point, this goes through to the fiber optic backbone that spreads through major population centers. Because data moves through shared connections, it travels as packets with address information like some electronic equivalent of mail. The internet is discontinuous, unlike the traditional telephone system for example.

The discontinuity offers opportunities; a data packet can move by various means with diverse speed and bandwidth characteristics. Fiber optics are zippy, my ping time to NY is only ~4ms, even better is internet over HF, you can span the US at practically light speed. Sadly, reliability and bandwidth are dreadful. Currently, high-bandwidth internet requires costly and vulnerable fiber optics that must be laid underground.

One way to increase bandwidth is to increase the size of the data packet. More data for the same amount of routing/checking information. As illustrated by the quote, "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway". Now, station wagons require drivers, oil changes and a highway/bathroom infrastructure. They also move at the speed of mail, and that idea has already been had <link>.

So, let's use artillery. A 155mm shell can fit a couple of petabytes using modern SSD densities. They average about 1mile/sec with a node to node rage of about 15miles, which is just fine for well-populated regions. The shells care not about roads, and artillery doctrine is so mature at this point, that all the creases caused by temperature, weather, etc. were ironed out decades ago. Artillery, if not automated can be controlled by labor of negligible quality.

The tricky part would be catching the shell, but with a little optimization, I reckon a shell could be aimed at a cone-shaped hole with some clever magnetic guidance/braking and read or re-packaged onward transmission. As an example, with a 20s write/read time I could get my 458gigs of imaging data to NY in <5 minutes. A vast improvement.

The military will love the system: they can build an ad-hoc network anywhere in the world with minimal infrastructure. Better yet, artillery shells in flight are very difficult to intercept by foreign nose-pokerinners. Especially if they want to look at the data without detection, with a little work, military engineers could build a layered system, perhaps using ICBMs with MIRV data heads as a high capacity backbone, or .50 cal rounds with USB-c plugs on the back for tactical comms.

bs0u0155, Oct 29 2019

High Bandwidth Data Transfer https://what-if.xkcd.com/31/
[bs0u0155, Oct 29 2019]


       It's going to be an awfully loud ping.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 29 2019

       //It's going to be an awfully loud ping//   

       I prefer "robust network utilization monitoring system" which has a scale ranging from 0-Verdun.
bs0u0155, Oct 29 2019

       // can be controlled by labor of negligible quality. //   

       For Despatch, fine - but hiring for Goods Inwards may be challenging.   

       And repetetive ...   

       // The tricky part would be catching the shell, //   

       A terminal guidance system that deploys a drogue chute for the "last mile" will do fine.
8th of 7, Oct 29 2019

       //a drogue chute//   

       I need a bit more re-useability built in. I'm going for a sabot round so the same round can be re-packaged and fired again. Maybe some rigid airbrakes?
bs0u0155, Oct 29 2019

       Sounds like you need to read up on Dr. Gerald Bull's work on martlets.
8th of 7, Oct 29 2019

       I hope he has pictures. I've always found them very difficult to distinguish from swifts.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 29 2019

       It's not too difficult. Swifts build mud nests under the eaves of houses, whereas martlets smash through the roof and settle on the ground floor in a heap of wreckage.
8th of 7, Oct 29 2019

       Could machine-gun fire be modulated to carry a data steam?
pocmloc, Oct 29 2019

       Great aerodynamics and terminal ballistics on those swifts though.... variable geometry wings for sustained 5g turns AND great glide ratios AND dive performance.
bs0u0155, Oct 29 2019

       Surely part of the problem is that fibre connections typically have only a single fibre. It can't be that hard to make a fibre bundle and associated hardware with, say, 2^20 fibres.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 29 2019

       //associated hardware with, say, 2^20 fibres//   

       You can fire several signals down one fiber, you can mess with color and phase to get many. 2^20 fibers might be OK, but the same number of switchs/ amplifiers/ multiplexers?
bs0u0155, Oct 29 2019

       Sure. Why not? There are plenty of optics-based chips that work with millions of elements.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 29 2019

       <Obligatory Blade Runner reference/>   

       "Eyes ... I just do eyes ..."   


       // Could machine-gun fire be modulated to carry a data steam? //   

       Yes, certainly. The message is limited to "Now we are trying to kill you ... now we're not" from the mark/space of bursts, but yes.
8th of 7, Oct 29 2019

       But what about those pneumatic tubes... A kind of hyperloop for data between large data centers.
Mindey, Oct 29 2019

       Maybe the answer is less data. My computer now has 2 million times the memory of my first computer. My data files are now typically 1 million times bigger than stuff I used to work with. My internet connection is about 850 times faster than the first dial-up connection. Yet, strangely, I am perhaps only two or three times happier than I used to be. This suggests that we have reached a point of diminishing returns.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 29 2019

       Not entirely nonsensical..   

       A fully (10^-9 torr) evacuated tube, using MagLev for suspension and propulsion, actually has no theoretical upper limit to velocity other than the speed of light. It's a linear accelerator (a mature technology ) but for a physical object; and that object requires neither an internal energy source, nor reaction mass.   

       Now, let us consider BUCHANAN, STOP THAT, IT'S DISGUSTING the energetic of such a system. If an evacuated tube were constructed from, say, Frederickton to Vancouver, that distance is a little over 4000km. As a test system this is ideal, as the only thing between those two points is Canada which contains nothing of interest or value so in the event of a failure there's nothing to damage.   

       The "shuttle" spends the first 2000 km accelerating, and the last 2000 km undergoing regenerative braking.   

       Given an acceleration of 10g, what is the peak velocity ?   

       Using Newton's laws, what is the transit time ?   

       What is the peak kinetic energy of a 1kg shuttle ?   

       You may begin now.
8th of 7, Oct 29 2019

       19,809m/s peak. That's pretty fast.
403.9s total (assuming 10g deceleration as well).
196.2MJ. That's also a lot...

       If you're going that far, you could do a "straight line" through the earth, and (since it's the "physicists favourite" frictionless vacuum), a little kick at the start and it will "fall" all the way to the end.
neutrinos_shadow, Oct 30 2019

       //Yet, strangely, I am perhaps only two or three times happier than I used to be. This suggests that we have reached a point of diminishing returns.//   

       However, if you were to return to those dialup speeds, I can almost guarantee that you will not be at the same level of satisfaction as you were when you originally had them.
RayfordSteele, Oct 30 2019


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