Natalie Hammel and Lorraine Yurshansky are Google employees who host an educational web series called Nat and Lo that highlights the many different aspects of Google’s business. Recently Nat and Lo had the opportunity to visit a factory in New Hampshire where undersea fiber optic cables are manufactured, and they were able to take home a length of the cable to examine on their show.
Then they reached out to the father and son duo behind What’s Inside?, another educational web series that cuts things open to, well, see what’s inside. The two teams met up at the What’s Inside? studio to take a close-up look at the backbone of the Internet.
The first thing that struck the hosts about the cable was just how heavy it is. One host compares its weight to a dense shot put or meteorite. Upon cutting into the cable with a chop saw, the reason for all that weight becomes immediately clear. The inside of an undersea fiber optic cable is composed almost entirely of protective lines of galvanized steel.
In fact, the fiber optic strands that transmit data thousands of miles across the ocean occupy only a tiny portion of the cable’s core. These fibers are housed in a plastic sheath, which is then surrounded by more protective galvanized steel and copper wiring for power. Without all that protective cladding, the fiber optics would be vulnerable to damage from curious wildlife and ships dropping anchor on the ocean floor.
Check out the video below to see the cable dissection for yourself and learn a little more about how optical fibers keep the world connected.