After leaving the racetrack Bill bumped into his old friend Peter on the bus.
“Say,” Peter said, “How’s it going?” “Going? You want to hear one of the most amazing things that ever happened? Tell me- what’s today’s date?”
“July seventh.” “Right. The seventh day, of the seventh month. I go to the track at seven minutes past seven. My son is seven years old today, and we live at number seven, Seventh Avenue.” “Let me guess,” Peter interrupted. “You put everything you had on the seventh horse in the seventh race.” “Right.”
“And he won!” Peter sighed.
“No. He came in seventh.”
Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
The Internet is one of the most transformative technologies of our lifetimes. But for 2 out of every 3 people on earth, a fast, affordable Internet connection is still out of reach. And this is far from being a solved problem.
There are many terrestrial challenges to Internet connectivity—jungles, archipelagos, mountains. There are also major cost challenges. Right now, for example, in most of the countries in the southern hemisphere, the cost of an Internet connection is more than a month’s income.
Solving these problems isn’t simply a question of time: it requires looking at the problem of access from new angles. So today we’re unveiling our latest moonshot from Google[x]: balloon-powered Internet access.
We believe that it might actually be possible to build a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, that provides Internet access to the earth below. It’s very early days, but we’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters. The idea may sound a bit crazy—and that’s part of the reason we’re calling it Project Loon—but there’s solid science behind it.
Balloons, with all their effortless elegance, present some challenges. Many projects have looked at high-altitude platforms to provide Internet access to fixed areas on the ground, but trying to stay in one place like this requires a system with major cost and complexity. So the idea we pursued was based on freeing the balloons and letting them sail freely on the winds. All we had to do was figure out how to control their path through the sky. We’ve now found a way to do that, using just wind and solar power: we can move the balloons up or down to catch the winds we want them to travel in. That solution then led us to a new problem: how to manage a fleet of balloons sailing around the world so that each balloon is in the area you want it right when you need it. We’re solving this with some complex algorithms and lots of computing power.
Now we need some help—this experiment is going to take way more than our team alone. This week we started a pilot program in the Canterbury area of New Zealand with 50 testers trying to connect to our balloons. This is the first time we’ve launched this many balloons (30 this week, in fact) and tried to connect to this many receivers on the ground, and we’re going to learn a lot that will help us improve our technology and balloon design.
Over time, we’d like to set up pilots in countries at the same latitude as New Zealand. We also want to find partners for the next phase of our project—we can’t wait to hear feedback and ideas from people who’ve been working for far longer than we have on this enormous problem of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. We imagine someday you’ll be able to use your cell phone with your existing service provider to connect to the balloons and get connectivity where there is none today.
This is still highly experimental technology and we have a long way to go—we’d love your support as we keep trying and keep flying! Follow our Google+ page to keep up with Project Loon’s progress.
Onward and upward.
Posted by Mike Cassidy, Project Lead
- Project Loon: Internet for everyone in The Planet (financearmageddon.blogspot.com)
- Introducing Project Loon: Balloon-powered Internet access (googleblog.blogspot.com)
- Google unveils latest moonshot: balloon-powered Internet access (9to5google.com)
- Google extends balloon-internet trials with Project Loon (wired.co.uk)
- Google X Announces Project Loon: Balloon-Powered Internet For Rural, Remote And Underserved Areas (techcrunch.com)
- Internet aases secret project (sathought.wordpress.com)
- Google Introduces Balloon-powered Internet access (rashidfaridi.com)
- Balloons above Canterbury to beam down wireless internet (radionz.co.nz)
- Google X Announces Project Loon: Balloon-Powered Internet For Rural, Remote And Underserved Areas (altf1be.wordpress.com)
- Google X to launch Internet balloon project ‘Loon’ (theinformativereport.com)
By Aviva Shen on Jun 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm
The nation’s crumbling infrastructure was made strikingly obvious by a recent string of collapsing bridges and train derailments. A newly released report highlights a less visible but equally urgent time bomb:deteriorating drinking water systems. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that $384 billion over the next 17 years is needed to repair and replace thousands of miles of pipes, thousands of water treatment plants, storage tanks, and water distribution systems. Without this investment, millions of Americans will lose the clean drinking water we currently take for granted.
Most of the drinking water infrastructure in the nation is 50 to 100 years old, and the risk of contamination grows as pipes age and break down further. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 7 billion gallons of clean drinking water are lost every day because of leaky pipes. In order to address this growing problem, every state needed at least $1 billion to fix their drinking water infrastructure. Most require between $3 and $10 billion, while nine states need more than $10 billion.
California, already struggling with severe water shortages that will only worsen with climate change, needs the most rehabilitation. Repairing and updating California’s drinking water system will cost at least $44.5 billion, up from 2007′s estimate of $44.2 billion. That’s $10 billion more than Texas and $22 billion more than New York.
The report also noted that virtually no states are planning for climate change’s impact on drinking water. Forward-thinking projects focusing on conservation and water efficiency are few and far between. Just 164 climate readiness projects have been planned in 44 of the nation’s 73,400 water systems.
The effects of decrepit water infrastructure are already manifesting themselves. For instance, the city of Baltimore, where more than 95 percent of the water mains have been in use for 65 years without inspection, endures about a thousand water main breaks every year, flooding streets and destroying properties. Many of the water mains have been in service for over a century. Because of the deteriorated system, the city loses about 20 percent of its finished water revenue each day — enough water to fill Baltimore’s World Trade Center every day.
At the same time, the price of water is exploding across the country at a far faster rate than other utilities. This is largely because treating water has become more expensive. And if water quality continues to decline, more treatment, more chemicals, and more energy will be needed to make it clean enough for drinking, making prices soar.
Though the drinking water situation is rapidly reaching crisis mode, Congress regularly fails to provide the necessary funding. The EPA estimates that between 2000 and 2019, funding to address water infrastructure needs will likely fall short by as much as $263 billion, or even more over the next 20 years as demand for water increases.
- The U.S. Needs $354 Billion To Repair Decrepit Pipes And Keep Drinking Water Clean (thinkprogress.org.feedsportal.com)
- Report: Wyoming faces $454M bill in wastewater, drinking water infrastructure (billingsgazette.com)
- EPA: $7.4B needed for Arizona’s drinking water system ()
- You: EPA survey ranks California No. 1 in water infrastructure needs (latimes.com)
- Billions needed for clean water > EPA estimates $384 billion is needed for water-infrastructure improvements. (newsreview.com)
- The 2 Things That You Need in Life (organisedclutter.wordpress.com)
- Nation’s drinking water system needs $384B upgrade (money.cnn.com)
- California tops list of states with water infrastructure needs (miamiherald.com)
- Villagers face drinking water shortage (fijitimes.com)
- How to drink more water (slimketone.wordpress.com)