Java’s contemplating the intricacies of the energy that is involved in the transmitting of information through cyberspace. Since neither of us know virtually anything to do with this, the exchange of ideas on the subject in this particular post must be purely conjectural, based on bits and pieces gathered from conversations and other sources. However, it is hoped that those with more knowledge on the topic would enlighten us further on the subject.

I guess it started with Is there a limit to it?, where we were wondering about the storage of information and the limits involved. Then there was this post and another one that provided more grist for the mill and set a tributary of the original stream of thought flowing to an unknown destination.

The thought that catalyzed the original stream was to do with what shape or substance information takes whilst traveling through cyberspace at the speed it does. Obviously, it must either be at the speed of light or at some speed close to it – or is there some other rate of travel that is faster that that of light? The speed of ‘thought’, for instance, has always intrigued both Java and me, and we have often spent periods of time tripping out over the conceptions we formulate in our heads. Has this ‘speed of thought’ been measured and if so, are there different speeds involved (but that’s a whole other kettle of thoughts)?

Aaannnyways, getting back to the ‘substance’ or ‘shape’ information takes – is it in the form of energy or is there some other explanation? As I asked, in response to Sanjana’s answer to a question in the original post:

The other aspect that intrigues me is that if the information is in the form of bits of energy (I’m postulating here), in the disposing of it does this energy take on another structure, or what exactly happens? Or is this another form of pollution?

To which Sanjana replied:

Bits aren’t energy, though to store them requires copious amounts of it. The biggest warehouses of bits are called Data Centres, and some of Google’s largest for example use more electricity than some American towns. It’s also linked to a debate on whether communicating through virtual worlds such as Second Life without resorting to air travel is really as green as it is made out to be, since Second Life servers themselves soak up vast amounts of energy that may have been produced by coal for example.

Information “lives” in servers globally. Like these comments, they are stored and backed up somewhere on WordPress servers. Gmail is I guess what started it all off, by offering unbelievable storage at a time when other online email services only gave meagre offerings. Google’s data storage soon became like Mahinda Rajapakse’s corruption in Sri Lanka – huge and growing apace. It’s no the only one though – the figure in this article are mind-boggling http://www.businessintelligencelowdown.com/2007/02/top_10_largest_.html

So if ‘bits’ are not ‘energy’ then what are they? In Java’s and my view, ‘everything’ is made up of some form of energy that transforms itself constantly depending on the conditions that affect it. The other important aspect that we were wondering about was the ‘pollution’ aspect of it. The information that is ‘destroyed’, must surely take on some ‘other’ form, as does everything else, so then like ‘oil’ and its by-products that pollute our environment, does this pollute cyberspace – or any other space?

Okay, so there you have it – pardon us if all this sounds simplistic or infantile, but it’s just that we would like to know.

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