..... Stumper Index
Stumper #36.






How Good Is Your Science KQ?

[i.e. your Knowledge Quotient]

The Internet fascinates me as I continue to learn about its nybbles, bits, and bytes of digital information. About 600 million people worldwide use it eagerly and the telephone wires and fiber-optic cables that are the Internet pipelines are continuously abuzz with activity. And yet I find the Internet being described as like "a 1973 Buick fitted with airbags and emissions controls." What is the problem and does it have something to do with whatever "bandwidth" is?

You probably send and receive e-mail, go Web browsing, do on-line shopping or personal banking. Perhaps you think it is a dream come true! And, of course it is. However, invented in the 1970s, the Internet has become clumsy and slow. It was not designed to handle the traffic or problems that exist now.

Many of us at home or at work use modems to connect to the Internet over telephone wires. Some luckier users can connect via fiber optic networks, and some connect wirelessly over the airwaves. But, whatever the method, there are now so many users that data traffic jams often slow the transmission of digital information to a crawl. Adding to this problem are those antisocial characters who delight in creating destructive agents such as Internet viruses and worms to disrupt and destroy.

Each time I pick up a new issue of the MIT Magazine of Innovation Technology, I read of bold ideas being worked on that will transform the Internet to bring it up to date, make it faster, safer, smarter and more accessible. Articles describe how people are inventing more efficient, more secure, faster ways for the packets of bits and bytes of information to move around in cyber space to and from your desktop machine.

One way to improve access to the rapidly growing wealth of information on the Internet by the rapidly growing numbers of Internet users requires increasing the capacity of fiber-optic cables that carry Internet traffic around the world. This capacity for carrying information is called bandwidth. And so our initial question, "what in the world is bandwidth?" is answered.

The Stumper Questions:
1. Which of these is likely (when not done to excess) to consume the most bandwidth?
a. Sending and receiving e-mail
b. Using '"meta search engines' to search the Internet
c. Listening to radio programs on the Web.

2. Which of the following is not a modern Internet innovation?
a) PlanetLab
b) Internet2
c) MBone

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