Neil Armstrong’s death on the weekend has everyone thinking lunar. A team at Google has calculated that more computing power is used in a single Google search than was needed for the entire moon landing mission, from inception to completion. That’s a powerful reflection of how rapidly technology advances, but the equally big lesson is that we don’t always appreciate the power we have or use it to best effect.
Google researchers Udi Manber and Peter Norvig reached that conclusion after analysing the computing systems used for NASA’s 1969 mission, and compared them to Google’s army of servers across the world. Their conclusion is startling:
When you enter a single query in the Google search box, or just speak it to your phone, you set in motion as much computing as it took to send Neil Armstrong and eleven other astronauts to the moon
I’m going to remember this the next time I feel like complaining about how my phone is slow, or I don’t get quite the search results I want, or an app doesn’t have all the customisation options I want. Yes, technology is constantly evolving. Yes, you have to know what’s wrong before you can make it right. But the amount of computing power that we have at our fingertips for minimal cost is utterly astonishing, and we need to remember that and be excited by it, not just annoyed.
The power of the Apollo missions in a single Google search [Inside Search]