Segments in this Video

Global Data Highway (03:03)


Submarine cables carry data streams all over the world less expensively than satellite streams. The first transoceanic cable transmitted the first telegram at a cost of $100.

Owners of Undersea Cables (02:08)

A consortium of 94 entities owns the cables that connect four continents. When a problem occurs in the cable, all partners play their role in finding the problem. Fiber optics occupies the center of the heavily protected underwater cable.

Damaged Undersea Cable (03:55)

A damaged cable triggers an alarm that alerts technicians to find the damage. The "Leon Thevenin" carries a repair team that can identify a damaged length of cable on the floor of the North Sea.

Data Packages (04:38)

The Internet is like an underground system, limited only by the capacity of fiber optic cable. Recirculating loop control allows technology to replicate several km of fiber optics right in the lab. Data packages travel the fiber optic highway at the speed of light.

Light and Glass (02:16)

How does light pass through glass? A demonstration shows that "total internal reflection" is at work to make this happen. Laser light has applications in energy, environment, and medicine.

How to Make Fiber Optics (04:16)

Optical fibers made today contain different glass materials. Glass fiber from large glass cylinders are drawn 40 m down into strands narrower than a human hair. The final fiber is 800 km long.

Robot Deployment (03:15)

A ship makes contact with a damaged cable lying on the bottom of the sea. An underwater robot is deployed. High winds and strong currents prevent the robot from making direct contact with the damaged cable.

Cable Manufacturing (02:39)

Delicate fiber optic cables are protected by cross-linked plastics. A 12-strand fiber optic cable is made from 12 separate strands on a specially designed machine. The final strand is protected by copper.

Life Aboard Ship (03:35)

While the crew waits for better weather to capture the damaged cable, they enjoy French cuisine aboard. Cable repair could cost in the millions and can influence the flat rate offered by Internet providers.

Undersea Cable Laying (03:12)

The Internet is a marketplace without market rules. International crews expand the Internet by laying cables a few km at a time. Cables must be buried in the seabed. Precision work is required to successfully lay cable.

Retrieval of Damaged Undersea Cable (05:28)

Technicians coordinate to retrieve a damaged undersea Internet cable. When the robot is not able to grip the cable, a sea anchor and a cutting tool are sent down. The whole ship is used to lift the several-ton cable--centimeter by centimeter--out of the sea bed.

Cable Splicing Process (02:33)

On board, technicians set about repairing the cable--Internet users will notice nothing. Technicians cut through the conducting copper tube and plastic coating to reveal the bare fibers. Repairs don't go as planned. We learn that it will be days before the problem is identified and reparied.

Credits: 20,000 Cables under the Sea: The Internet and the Physics of Fiber Optics (00:51)

Credits: 20,000 Cables under the Sea: The Internet and the Physics of Fiber Optics

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20,000 Cables under the Sea: The Internet and the Physics of Fiber Optics

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The Internet’s mind-boggling flow of data that circulates so freely “in the cloud” does much of its real-world traveling beneath the sea in bundles of fiber-optic cable. This program sets sail on the Leon Thevenin as a repair team identifies a damaged length of cable on the floor of the North Sea and then painstakingly splices in a new section. In addition, the program discusses high-bandwidth digital developments such as naked-eye 3-D video and describes the principles of applied fiber-optic physics, cable-manufacturing processes, and cable-laying techniques that are making such advanced Internet technology a reality. (46 minutes)

Length: 46 minutes

Item#: BVL42261

ISBN: 978-1-61733-213-5

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“With the increasing push for STEM education, videos like this have an important place in the classroom because they have the potential to show students the hands-on work required to make technology like the internet work. Although the material covered in this video does not technically fall into any clear discipline like Earth or computer science, or clearly match a particular benchmark or standard, it effectively conveys applied science…. Students in STEM classrooms need exposure to videos like these to appreciate how data from YouTube and other internet sites travel across the Earth to arrive at the classroom or home computer.  —NSTA Recommends

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