How fast is a piece of string? Boffin shoots ADSL signal down twine
Metaphor wrought in flesh
An experiment by staff at UK ISP Andrews & Arnold has redefined the meaning of a fibre connection by showing that a piece of wet string can handle ADSL.
Our anonymous hero* got the idea for the experiment from a joke that ADSL signal could operate over wet string. Although telephone signals have been successfully passed through barbed wire in the past, using wet string to transfer signals was just a metaphor. A metaphor that this engineer would turn into reality.
Using a two-metre length of string (which The Register can reveal was bought on eBay), some crocodile clips and the office's connection test equipment, the experiment was carried out. The results, published on company boss Adrian Kennard's blog, showed that soaking the string in fresh water didn't work, but using salt water allowed it to carry a 3.5Mb/s signal along its length.
Here's the ISP staffer's tweet thread about it all – check it out for a gallery of snaps...
today's thoughts: can you run adsl over a literal wet string?— ✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨ (@0x47DF) December 8, 2017
i'd totally test this so i can finally put this to rest (it's been bugging me randomly for months) but i lack string, and more croc clips.
Sadly, continued testing was difficult because the office air conditioning kept drying out the string. Our brave engineer wasn't put off, though. His next test will be to monitor the quality of the signal passing through, and check if data packets can be kept together with string.
Kennard told El Reg: "Our engineers are technical and curious, and we like to encourage them to do things like this when it's quiet. The test shows ADSL can work on almost anything, even if it's at a slow speed."
Whether the next test will prove the string connection flawed or effective is uncertain, Kennard added. "Either way, it will be interesting!" ®
* Likely because he doesn't want rival experimenters stealing his new tech.
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