1
$\begingroup$

Is there a way to describe the Internet in terms of a physics theory, like how the atom is described by quantum mechanic? If there is, how is it described by this theory.

$\endgroup$
6
  • $\begingroup$ If by a description of the Internet you mean the technology behind it (hinting by the term digital in your question) this is well within the established body of physics. Especially electromagnetism (signal propagation) and solid state physics (all semiconductor devices). $\endgroup$ – Alexander Feb 1 '12 at 22:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Mhm, this is propably pretty off topic although very interesting. I would interpret the question as if the internet can be viewed as an emerging organism. The physical aspect is maybe the question of how information propagates though the thing and this reminds (at least me) of field theory. If you read through the wikipedia article on complex systems and also network you might find many interesting ways one can approach this. $\endgroup$ – Nikolaj-K Feb 2 '12 at 9:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can anyone state a clear reason for considering this to be on-topic and a real question? My inclination is to close it, but I don't want to act out of ignorance. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Feb 3 '12 at 2:14
  • $\begingroup$ Please don't take the closing of this question as an attack, you've simple cast too wide a net. As per the FAQ(practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face) we are looking for specific answerable questions that do not invite open ended discussion. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Feb 4 '12 at 3:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Don't worry about that. If the discussion helps you improve your question (and/or understand why it's inappropriate for this site), it's worth it. $\endgroup$ – David Z Feb 4 '12 at 4:08
2
$\begingroup$

First of all, you need to consider that the Internet is at one level a physical thing. It is made of a collection of servers, clients, routers, switches, and the like, all of which are typically metal and plastic boxes full of electronic components. Within these boxes of course you have the physics of semiconductors, power supplies, etc. These boxes are connected to each other by physical things also: metallic wires, glass and plastic fiber-optics, radio waves, microwaves. There you have the physics of electromagnetics, optics, etc. Let's not forget satellites, they're in there too! So we have the physics of orbits and relativity. There are trillions of physical components to the Internet, and they are each made of high-tech materials using modern science.

So the literal answer to your question is that nearly every subfield of modern physics, except perhaps the most theoretical, are involved in making the Internet work.

$\endgroup$
0

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.