In xkcd's series what if, an area dedicated to answering hypothetical questions with physics, examines "When -- if ever -- will the bandwidth of the Internet surpass that of FedEx?"
If you want to transfer a few hundred gigabytes of data, it's generally faster to FedEx a hard drive than to send the files over the internet. This isn't a new idea -- it's often dubbed SneakerNet -- and it's how Google transfers large amounts of data internally.
But will it always be faster?
Cisco estimates that total internet traffic currently averages 167 terabits per second. FedEx has a fleet of 654 aircraft with a lift capacity of 26.5 million pounds daily. A solid-state laptop drive weighs about 78 grams and can hold up to a terabyte.
That means FedEx is capable of transferring 150 exabytes of data per day, or 14 petabits per second -- almost a hundred times the current throughput of the internet.
|InfoGraphic: Cities That Have Burned and Have Been Rebuilt|
|Little Red Riding Hood as a Video Infographic|
|Your Big Breakthrough Comes at Age 35|
|"Do teenagers understand the outdated tech in our icons?"|
|“It's unbelievable how much energy is released.”|
|WannaCry is Childsplay Compared to This|
|Schools Monitoring Students' Social Media Feeds|
|“We have to forget steel as a core employer.”|
|“It’s not something you would expect to see there and not something we’ve seen there before.”|
|"Is meant to produce more energy than it consumes."|
|"The first to target civilians and the first such malware built to target a nation’s power supply."|
|“Drone carrying defibrillators could begin operating in Sweden.”|
|“Making paper out of stone.”|
|Making a Movie Inside a Video Game|
|"Its tilted axis makes orbit, showing the position of the sun and the time."|
|A Simple Task for CRISPR|
|"Technological transformation first reduced the income of the populations for decades, although societies became wealthier in the long term."|