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Would you spend $300m to save 6ms?

Speed of light slows down traders

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Blog How much is getting trades done 6 milliseconds quicker worth? About $300m, as it turns out. A new transatlantic fibre cable promises to reduce the languid 65-milliseconds it take to transmit a trade between London and New York time to a quicker 59ms. Traders are expected to line up to use the new service and pay extra for the privilege.

The secret to the speed-up is using hollow core fibre rather than solid cores. According to Max Planck (the institute, not the man), traveling through solid glass slows light down by about a third. Details on the new cable and how they’re going to optimize it are here.

What really caught my eye was the Andrew Bach (head of NYSE Eurotext networks) saying “The speed-of-light limitation is getting annoying”. Look pal, the speed of light is just something you’re going to have to live with. It’s the law ... or is it?

CERN recently reported that they just may have broken the speed of light, or, more accurately, observed some particles that seemed to move a bit faster than thought possible (details here). The speed-up wasn’t much, but since it may potentially break a bedrock law of physics, it is attracting a lot of scientific interest and investigation.

I only wish the police (and scientific community) were as willing to investigate my claim that it was impossible for my 1968 Fiat 850 to achieve a speed of 75 mph. It not only would have saved me quite a bit of money, but it might have pushed forward the boundaries of science as well. ®

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