How Does The Internet Work?

We use it every day. Everyone gets on the Internet to do different things. Some play online games, others write in forums, read the newspaper or watch videos on the Internet. The modern social networks also work only if you have an Internet connection.

Much of our lives now happens online. You can even shop or have food delivered to your home over the Internet. In this way, the Internet makes our everyday lives easier.

Because the Internet makes it very easy to compare prices, it enables us to find the cheapest offer for something and possibly even order it online.

Banking transactions are carried out online, transfers are made quickly via netbanking. Booking trips, comparing hotels, buying cars and placing your own ads – all this would be unthinkable without the Internet.

This invention makes us freer and more independent, because almost everyone has access to it. On the one hand, it helps us consumers because we can search for ratings and reviews of various products or hotels in comparison portals. On the other hand, there are many stumbling blocks in the big world of the Internet. Scammers on the net specialize in luring people into their subscription traps. Before you know it, you’ll be inundated with horrendous bills and lawyer’s letters.

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But virtual flooding, namely of the e-mail inbox, is also a problem. So-called spam mails with partly fraudulent offers can hardly be distinguished from useful advertising.

Everything that once circulated on the Internet remains unforgotten. “The Internet never forgets.” it is also said. And it’s true: Everything you once posted, uploaded or clicked on has consequences. Your photos are stored by other people without you being able to do anything about it. Your activities can be relatively easily tracked and used against you.

It is just as easy to get hold of someone else’s passwords and access data to various Internet accounts. This can sometimes have serious consequences for the victims.

As you can see, the Internet is actually a huge thing. It begs the question of how something like this can actually work? What happens in the invisible, big “bubble” that is the Internet? That’s exactly what we’d like to explain to you today.

How The Internet Works

In order for you to use the Internet, your parents (or you yourself) have signed a contract with a telecommunications company. With the contract you usually get a modem. Nowadays almost all modems are W-LAN capable. This means that you don’t need a cable from the PC to the modem. The whole thing then works wirelessly (cable-free).

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When you now go on the Internet, your provider (the telecommunications company) processes your requests and forwards them in the form of signals to the one where the page is stored.

Then a response to your request is sent back, so to speak, which eventually reach your modem. Your PC then displays the page using a browser. Until the information reaches your Browser (the program you use to surf the Internet), where you can view it, it is virtually unreadable to you. The exchange of data takes place in the HTML-Language. This is a kind of programming language that tells the browser how to display the page.

Only when you look at the page with the browser, the data is converted into a form that is useful for you.

What Is A Domain?

Basically, the Internet consists of many computers (also called “servers”). This is where all the information you can find on the Internet is stored. If you post something on Facebook, this post also goes to a server.

Each of these servers has a unique address where you can reach it. These are quite long numbers, which are also called IP. Now it would be quite complicated and cumbersome if you always have to enter the IP to get to a certain page. Therefore there are the so-called Domains. The domain is what you can see in the address bar of your browser (for example http://www.elternkompass.de). Behind this domain is now a very specific IP and thus a specific server that you access.

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How Much Does The Internet Weigh?

That in itself is quite an interesting question. It would be kind of funny if you could measure how heavy the Internet actually is, wouldn’t it?

To find out, here’s what you need to know: On the one hand, the Internet is made up of the servers that store the data. The servers themselves are quite heavy.

But if you look at the data itself, you come to an interesting conclusion. Actually, one would think that data has no weight. After all, you can’t feel the difference between an empty USB stick and one that’s full of files, can you? If you want, you can just try it out. All you need is two identical USB sticks, some time and a PC.

If you want to try it yourself, please don’t read any further for now.

It sounds unbelievable that data has a weight of its own. But in fact, the weight of the stored data has a minimal effect on the weight of the data carrier (e.g. USB stick). What is the reason for this? How can this be?

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The fact that data has a weight is due to the fact that it is made up of surges of electricity. When current flows, electrons move. Each electron has a certain mass and therefore also a weight. But this weight is so small that we cannot perceive it. Not even if a USB stick stored 10 gigabytes of data.

The weight is so small that, moreover, we cannot even measure it with a scale. However, using a formula, scientists were able to find out that the Internet could weigh at most as much as a strawberry, i.e. a few grams.

Worksheet For The Text

1) Explain the difficult words from the text.

What does…

  • W-LAN

  • Browser

  • HTML

  • Domain

2) Does the Internet have a weight? If yes, how heavy is it?

3) Draw a small sketch describing in a simplified way how the Internet works. What are the intermediate steps and who is involved in the exchange of data? Design your sketch in a way that other people could understand it. To do this, label each part of your sketch.

Photo: Scanrail / bigstockphoto.com

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