Posts Tagged ‘gosh

16
Jul
09

The sublime and the enormous

When you connect to an internet site, many things happen. First, your request is sent to a domain name system service, which translate the friendly-looking http://www.sex.com into the much more computer-friendly 76.74.255.123, which is the address of the server you’re looking for. The server gets your request and sends a bunch of information back. All of this data is broken up into tiny packets which all take different routes through the mystical tubes, and are reassembled at the other end–your end. And, after just a couple of seconds of waiting, you’re looking at porn. Magic, huh? The thing is, though, we are running out of addresses. We can get about four billion addresses out of the current system, known as IPv4. The system intended to replace it, known as IPv6, however, puts paid to all that. It has, give or take, 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 possible addresses. How to visualise a number that large? Well, I gave it a go, using a trick first used in John Gribbin’s In Search Of Schrödinger’s Cat.

Continue reading ‘The sublime and the enormous’

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