IT and Water


People are living near water – so is IT

Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface but it is mostly unexplored space. We know more about Pluto than the bottom of our seas! Statistics show that over 50% of the world's population lives closer than 3 km to a surface freshwater body, and only 10% of the population lives further than 10 km away. That’s why also most of the computing is done near water.

Today many data centers use sea water for cooling air to keep the servers at reasonable temperatures. Google has even patented and since 2010 built several floating data centers. IBM started in 1995 to build directly water cooled mainframes and supercomputers.

Only 2.5% of the Earth's water is freshwater, and 98.8% of that water is in ice (excepting ice in clouds) and groundwater. Less than 0.3% of all freshwater is in rivers, lakes, and the atmosphere, and an even smaller amount of the Earth's freshwater (0.003%) is contained within biological bodies and manufactured products.

Water and data streams

Water flows constantly in many different river systems – joisto in Finnish [sic] – like data in fiber cables. Optical fibers are based on the invention of total internal reflection that was invented already in 1842 by a Swiss physicist Jean-Daniel Colladon (1802-1893). He used a tube to collect and pipe sunlight to the lecture table. The light was trapped by the total internal reflection of the tube until the water jet, upon which edge the light incidented at a glancing angle, broke up and carried the light in a curved flow.

Lack of pure water - Waterless urinals

In today’s world, we often take for granted having clean water and basic sanitation. However, one of every six people on planet Earth do not have daily access to clean drinking water, and one in every three people do not have the water required for basic sanitation needs. Each year, this lack of clean water (and the diseases this situation creates) is responsible for more deaths than all global wars.

Since about the 1990s there had been urinals that use no water at all. These are called waterless urinals or flushless urinals. They were first invented by a German named Klaus Reichardt, who secured his innovation with several patents.

In internet we need data to be sent between computers to be clean and unchanged. We use different encryption and hashing systems to reach this goal. Here we need continuously better methods as breaking the encryption is easier with newer hardware. The next step will be quantum cryptography and hackers who try to break it with quantum computers.

Water – source of life

Scientists have theories about how life has come to earth. We know that essential part of that process is water. According to studies the water that was originally on earth when it was formed was vaporized totally from the surface and stayed only in mineralized form in the inner parts of the globe. The water that we have today came from the comets and asteroids colliding with earth. European Space Agency (ESA) has sent a spacecraft Rosetta to inspect the Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, that was closest to the sun just a couple of weeks ago (August 13). It carried a probe named Philae that made the first successful landing on a comet.

The Permittivity Probe (PP), the first instrument that touched the comet, was made in Finland. Its purpose is to determine the water ice content in the cometary surface layer and its variation with time as the comet approaches the Sun. According to the first results the water in 67P is different from the water we have here, but there are millions of other comets and asteroids which may have different origin thus different kind of water.

Philae carried some Finnish IT into 67P as well. The Command and Data Management System CDMS that controls and monitors the various instruments on the lander was partly of Finnish origin.

There are also some theories that not only water but the seeds of the first living organisms have been dropped from the sky within colliding comets.

Boose makers have since centuries known the fact that life comes from water. They might have had a theory that pure water is not enough but it has to be enhanced. That’s why real water of life is sold with its Gaelic or Latin names: Whiskey or Aquavit!

Gods have since the beginning of mankind believed to be the creators of life on earth. That’s why almost all tribes and communities have one or more gods of water. The ancient Creek had Poseidon, the Inuits called her Sedna and we Finns had Ahti.

May the IT be with you!


About Timo Heikkinen

Joisto, CEO, M.Sc. I have experienced both good and bad times in business life and not only have survived them all but got stronger for the future. Started as a programmer and gathered wisdom from all the levels of company hierarchy. On free time I like to be in the nature carrying out outdoor activities like horse back riding, windsurfing, snowboarding,..

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