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These Scientists Are Trying to Take the Internet Underwater

Have you ever been underwater and thought, "man I really wish I could watch some YouTube videos right now?"

smithsonian.com

Have you ever been underwater and thought, “Man, I really wish I could watch some YouTube videos right now?” Well, researchers at the University of Buffalo have you covered. They’re working on new wireless modems that go in the water.

Robert McMillan at Wired spoke with Tommaso Melodia, the researcher leading the underwater internet charge. Melodia says that the idea isn’t so weird. “This means that you can take an underwater network and make it accessible through the internet,” he says. That could be everything from monitors and sensors looking for tsunamis and storms to submarines exploring the deep.

Of course, the internet down there isn’t very fast. McMillan explains:

But these networks are very, very slow. In fact, that’s why Melodia and his team had to rewrite TCP/IP. On dry land, we can use high frequency radio waves to transmit our internet data at near-light speeds. They’re fast, high-bandwidth and inaudible. But radio doesn’t do so well underwater. There you need acoustic networking. It’s slow, low bandwidth and audible to both humans and sea creatures.

They’re working on it though, and hope to get a higher speed connection up and running before your underwater house is finished.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Robots Get Their Own Internet
This Artist Wants to Print Out the Internet

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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