Technology to Talk to Trapped Miners

Four years after a series of mine collapses, technologies to help trapped miners are almost here

5 min read

15 September 2010—On 5 August, the collapse at a Chilean gold and copper mine left 33 miners trapped in a chamber nearly 700 meters below the surface. They're still down there, while officials coordinate their rescue. As bad as their situation is, it could have been much worse: They could have been mining coal.

The Chilean miners have been able to talk to their families by phone, and video images of the men have been broadcast around the world. But if they'd been in a coal mine, their television debut would likely have been impossible. The slightest spark from electronic equipment can ignite methane gas and coal dust, touching off a deadly explosion.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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