Google Dons New Coat of Kevlar Armor to Fight Sharks
Google – the ultimate savior of millions across the globe. The giant of genius in the market. Seems invincible, right?
However recently, one power has forced Google to take steps like coating its underwater cables in Kevlar-like material to save itself from destruction. The ultimate power in question? Sharks. Yes.
Sharks have been attacking underwater fiber optic cables ever since they started getting installed in there, something which the New York Times in 1987 even pointed out. Not only does it pose a threat to the sharks’ lives, it also shakes the infrastructure of thousands of companies relying on this source.
Last week, Dan Belcher, a product manager at Google explained at the Google Cloud Roadshow event that Google makes immense effort to protect its infrastructure. Hence it has taken steps to coat its trans-Pacific underwater cables in Kevlar-like material to prevent against shark attacks.
The problem did not persist with copper cables before, though. This led to the speculation regarding this unusual infatuation of sharks with the fiber optics. Sharks are biologically equipped with the ability to detect electromagnetic fields. This ability, electroreception, allows sharks to detect the weak bio-electric fields generated by fish so they can hunt them down.
On the other hand, high voltage running through the cables generates electromagnetic fields around them. Turns out, as also hypothesized in 2009, that the sharks mistake these fields for movement by the fish, and turn towards them in a hope of catching prey.
Unlike short-haul terrestrial fiber cables or old copper cables where the fiber did not emit noticeable fields, undersea cables must carry high voltage power to the undersea repeaters, which result in both electric and magnetic fields around and along the cable … Some sharks mistaken the electric fields for distressed fish and attempt to feed on the cable.”
You are probably wondering why Google has been so sensitive to this issue, making headlines in the news with its fiber coating protection schemes. This very document answers the question. Google Fiber is not just an optic fiber cable; its a complete personal product, with their own design of the fiber.
“Since fiber is made of fragile glass, its casing is built to protect it from breaking. A fiber-optic cable often includes (listed from the outer layer inward): An outer polyurethane jacket, a protective layer (made from a material like kevlar), a plastic coating (in different colors, so technicians can follow the path of each strand), and enclosed in all of these, a glass fiber.”
Fiber cables use laser signals to send information through glass, which lets cables support transmission speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second — 100 times faster than an average copper cable connection. No wonder Google is not letting sharks play with the cables as their chew toy.