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Lucas Gonze
Lucas Gonze

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Counting the Internet

It is a struggle even to know your limitations, much less engineer systems bigger than you can imagine, but that is your own problem. The size of the Internet isn't constrained by understanding.

How many packets are received in a second? You can count them - not easy, but not impossible - but you can't imagine the number. Now picture the number of packets in an hour, day, year, decade.

What does a decade's worth of packets look like? It's an immense flow, and it's only a small part of the total.

The first packets were exchanged in 1973, 48 years ago at this writing. What is the size of the Internet? One way to answer that is to count all the packets since 1973 to your present moment.

The beauty of this method is that it fits in a neat mental package. If you can think it, if your machinery can handle it at all, that is a victory.

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