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How the NEPTUNE Project Wired the Ocean 46

An anonymous reader writes with a story about a unique 500-mile-long high-speed optical cable project that runs along the Pacific seafloor. "The Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is by far one of the Earth's smallest. It spans just a few hundred kilometers of the Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia coast. But what the Juan de Fuca lacks in size it makes up for in connectivity. It's home to a unique, high-speed optical cabling that has snaked its way across the depths of the Pacific seafloor plate since late 2009. This link is called NEPTUNE—the North-East Pacific Time-Series Underwater Networked Experiment—and, at more than 800 kilometers (about 500 miles), it's about the same length as 40,000 subway cars connected in a single, long train. A team of scientists, researchers, and engineers from the not-for-profit group Oceans Network Canada maintains the network, which cost CAD $111 million to install and $17 million each year to maintain. But know that this isn't your typical undersea cable. For one, NEPTUNE doesn't traverse the ocean's expanse, but instead loops back to its starting point at shore. And though NEPTUNE is designed to facilitate the flow of information through the ocean, it also collects information about the ocean, ocean life, and the ocean floor."
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How the NEPTUNE Project Wired the Ocean

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  • I think. I can't load the vids. Let me see the stream! Very cool initiative indeed! Great job on the innovation.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google has fiber, Kellogs has fiber, now the ocean has fiber, when do I get fiber?

  • Woo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:40AM (#47398073)

    about the same length as 40,000 subway cars connected in a single, long train

    Crazy Unit of the Year award!

    • How long is a subway car? Most of the world doesn't have subways. Just shows the writer's unconscious bias when she fails to consider this because she and everyone she knows uses the subway every day. It's pernicious and it's inexcusable for educated people.
      • Re:Woo! (Score:5, Funny)

        by exploder ( 196936 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @07:16AM (#47398245) Homepage

        I was unsure about this, too, but now I know it's about 1/40,000 of a 500 mile road trip. Thanks, Slashdot!

      • Re:Woo! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @07:35AM (#47398291)

        How long is a subway car?

        It's about 1/40 thousandth the length of this cabling.

        Sheesh, do we have to explain everything to you guys?

      • The standard anonymous sex is male. Using "she" when the subject is not known to be female is confusing and is not proper English. It exposes your conscious bias.

        Furthermore, the author of TFA is Matthew Braga, a male name.

    • about the same length as 40,000 subway cars connected in a single, long train

      Crazy Unit of the Year award!

      Given the location a better unit would have been: ...about the same length as 8 million slices of Canadian bacon on the longest hoagy ever!

  • by Gunstick ( 312804 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:41AM (#47398077) Homepage

    subway cars? come on!

    And how many libraries of congress?

    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      I don't know, but the cable lies underneath about 9.62*10^12 Olympic swimming pools worth of ocean.
  • North-East Pacific Time-Series Underwater Networked Experiment

    So, is that supposed to be NPTUNE, or NEPTSUNE? Surely we don't want to be inconsistent.

  • it's about the same length as 40,000 subway cars

    Or 470,000 Librarians of Congress, stretched out head-to-toe...

  • Google put one of these on the floor of the East coast, rather they are currently engaged in placing one along the east coast for (as I remember) off-shore wind power bus connections. This was announced a couple of years ago. They were putting one in the mid-west as well to make available connections for wind farms in an area where none had previously been, encouraging their expansion. On the east coast they displayed plans for placement off the Carolinas while the gov was busy politicking around for pla
    • Re:Google (Score:5, Informative)

      by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:05AM (#47398377) Journal

      Google put one of these on the floor of the East coast, rather they are currently engaged in placing one along the east coast for (as I remember) off-shore wind power bus connections

      Aside from both using the word "cable", there is nothing in common between these two projects. One is an undersea fiber optic cable whose primary purpose is scientific exploration, the other is a commercial venture for transporting bulk electrical power.

      Unfortunately, it appears that there is another important difference: NEPTUNE is built and operating, whereas the Atlantic Wind Connection [] appears to have not made much headway, let alone built anything, in the past couple of years. They haven't so much as done a press release [] in the last eight months. The current goal is to build one section along the New Jersey shore []. Estimated completion date: 2021.

  • so way is it used as an analogy? It doesn't clear anything up, so it violates the "omit needless words" maxim.

    • It is easy to imagine.

      Start by imagining 1. Then add another 1. Then add another one. Then... when you get to 40,000 then you have successfully imagined 40,000 of them.

      • That's sequentially imagining one subway car 40,000 times, but that's not what I wrote. It's the comparative size that's at stake. Imagining the size of a grapefruit is not the same thing as imagining a grapefruit.

        • That's true. I should add that once you imagined the 40,000 subway cars then imagine that you have huge tape measure and you start at one end of the train and stretch it out to the other end of the train... imagine the number at the end of the tape measure. NOW YOU HAVE DEFINITELY IMAGINED THE SIZE OF 40,000 SUBWAY CARS.

          • If only! Again, there is a small but important difference between imagining a size and imagining measuring a size. Size is a property, and measuring is an action. If there were no difference between properties and actions, everyone would be immortal, because instead of your heart beating it would have "beating" as a property, which it couldn't lose because "stop beating" would also be a property, and properties cannot causally interact with other properties.

  • Your homework for this week deals with unit conversions - subway cars, Volkswagens, Libraries of Congress, African swallows, European swallows, a coon's age, a pinch, a New York minute, and many other units you will have to deal with in your daily lives.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The article didn't mention the final deploy of the USA side of Neptune is going in this summer. Don't think the Canadians get to have all the fun with Ocean science, but the NSF has funded a cabled observatory spanning the Juan de Fuca plate as part of an effort with Canada to get sensors covering nearly all the fault lines.

    The project in the USA is no longer called Neptune, but more can be found about it here [].

  • Ah, the Juan De Fuca plate. You deploy a network cable, you analyze the surroundings, you discover you can extract geothermal energy and by 2050 you end up with the Rifters universe. P. Watts rejoice! :-)

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser