Dropping a Line

Back To The Future

Last year, after having dug to a depth of 10 feet outside of New York City, New York scientists found traces of copper cable dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than one century ago.  Not to be outdone by New Yorkers, California archaeologists dug to a depth of 20 feet outside of Los Angeles and shortly thereafter this story appeared in the LA Times: “California scientists report finding a 200 year-old copper cable and conclude that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a century earlier than the New Yorkers.”  One week later, a local newspaper in Alabama, published the  following: “After digging down about 30 feet deep in his pasture near the community of Skunk Hollow, Bubba, a self-taught archaeologist, revealed that he found absolutely no copper cable and thus  concluded 300 years ago Alabama had already gone wireless!”

It was 1858 and after four years of labour, the first telecommunications cable was laid on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean by the Atlantic Telegraph Company.  The 3,500 mile-long wire was designed to greatly shorten the time (ten days) it took for a message to go from America to England (via ship).  The honour of sending the world’s very first trans-ocean message was given to Queen Victoria, and the honour of receiving the world’s very first trans-ocean message was (back) given to the President Garfield.  And so ninety-eight words ending with, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men, left England’s coast and arrived on America’s shore in just 16 hours!  The feat was celebrated with a 100-gun salute and ringing of all of the city’s church bells.  Soon more oceanic lines of cable would follow, but ultimately to be replaced by modern satellite communication.

However, tele-communication companies are now abandoning outer space to return once again to the ocean floor.  Apple,  Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc., are all spending hundreds of millions of dollars to lay their own deep-water cable lines.  (With the world-wide demand for internet services exploding; satellites are just too slow speed-wise and too limited space-wise, as well as being too expensive on which to rent space.)  The newest fibre-optic cable is called Marea (Spanish for ‘tide’), and is 4,000 miles long.  The $300 million dollar line will provide 160 terabits of bandwidth per second (about 16,000,000 more than the average  home internet connection).  These garden-hose size cables are  installed by special boats called cable-layers and are shielded with wired shark-proof wrappers.  Marea will be the 285th cable strung along the ocean’s bottom, compared to 1,000 satellites up in  space.  And hundreds more such cables are in the works as third-world nations and isolated islands are looked upon as future business opportunities.

The bottom line?  So our pace of communication has increased from 10 days to 16 hours to 99.7% the speed of light.  Wasn’t it the biblical prophet who wrote:

Daniel 12:4 – But thou, O Daniel, shut the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.