Surprising Facts About the Web

Strange things you probably didn't know about the WWW

Since its inception in the 1960s, the Internet has grown from a military experiment into a gigantic living organism filled with oddities and subcultures. Since the World Wide Web launched, the Net has seen truly explosive growth in tech, business, and culture.

Here are some of the bizarre factoids that describe the Internet and the World Wide Web. Grab yourself a mug of root beer and join us for some truly incredible trivia below!

Related: what is the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web?

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The Internet Requires Approximately 50 Million Horsepower in Electricity

The Internet Requires Approximately 50 Million Horsepower in Electricity
The Internet Requires Approximately 50 Million Horsepower in Electricity. Image Source / Getty Images

Yes. With an estimated 8.7 billion electronic devices connected to the Internet, the electricity required to run the system for even one day is very substantial. According to Russell Seitz and the calculation of Michael Stevens, 50 million brake horsepower worth of electrical power is required to keep the Internet running in its current state.

It Takes 2 Billion Electrons to Produce a Single Email Message.
It Takes 2 Billion Electrons to Produce a Single Email Message. Digital Vision / Getty Images

According to Michael Stevens and Vsauce calculations, a 50-kilobyte email message uses the footprint of 8 billion electrons.  The number sounds ginormous, yes, but with electrons weighing next to nothing, 8 billion of them weigh less than a quadrillionth of an ounce. More »

Of the 7 Billion on Planet Earth, Over 2.4 Billion Use the Internet
Of the 7 Billion on Planet Earth, Over 2.4 Billion Use the Internet. Image Source / Getty Images

While most of these calculations cannot be precisely confirmed, there is high confidence amongst most internet statistics that more than 2 billion people use the internet and the Web as a matter of weekly habit. More »

The Internet Weighs As Much As One Strawberry
The Internet Weighs As Much As One Strawberry. Flickr Select / Getty Images

Russel Seitz is a physicist who has crunched some very precise numbers.  With some atomic physics assumptions, the billions upon billions of 'data-in-motion' moving electrons on the Internet add up to approximately 50 grams. That is 2 ounces, the weight of one strawberry. More »

Over 8.7 Billion Machines Are Connected to the Internet.
Over 8.7 Billion Machines Are Connected to the Internet. Iconica / Getty Images

Smartphones, tablets, desktops, servers, wireless routers and hotspots, car GPS units, wristwatches, refrigerators and even soda pop machines: the Internet is comprised of billions of gadgets.  Expect this to grow to 40 billion gadgets by 2020.  More »

Every 60 Seconds on the Internet...
Every 60 Seconds on the Internet... Gizmodo.com

 ...and of those 72 hours, most of the videos are about cats, Harlem Shake dance moves, and inane things that no one is interested in.   Like it or not, people love to share their amateur videos in the hopes that it will go viral and achieve a small bit of celebritydom. More »

Electrons Only Move a Few Dozen Meters Before Stopping on the Net.
Electrons Only Move a Few Dozen Meters Before Stopping on the Net. Photodisc / Getty Images

Yes, an electron doesn't travel very far through the wires and transistors of our computers; they move perhaps a dozen meters or so between machines, and then their energy and signal are consumed by the next device on the network. Each device, in turn, transfers the signal to the adjacent set of electrons and the cycle repeats again down the chain. All of this happens within fractions of seconds.  More »

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The Internet's 5 Million Terabytes Weighs Less Than a Grain of Sand

The Internet's Total Data Weighs Less Than a Grain of Sand
The Internet's Total Data Weighs Less Than a Grain of Sand. Photolibrary / Getty Images

Weighing even less that all the moving electricity, the weight of the internet's static data storage ('data-at-rest') is freakishly small.  Once you take away the mass of the hard drives and transistors, it boggles the mind that 5 million TB of data comprises less mass than a grain of sand. (Here's an understandable guide to everything from bytes to yottabytes for your reading pleasure.)

Over 78% of North Americans Use the Internet
Over 78% of North Americans Use the Internet. Cultura / Getty Images

The USA and the English language were the original influences that spawned the Internet and the World Wide Web. It makes sense that the great majority of Americans rely on the Web as a daily part of life. More »

1.7 Billion of the Internet's Users Are in Asia
1.7 Billion of the Internet's Users Are in Asia. Cut Images / Getty Images

That's right: over half of the regular population of the Web resides in some part of Asia:  Japan, South Korea, India, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore are just some of the countries with this high adoption rate. There are a growing number of web pages published in these Asian languages, but the predominant web language continues to be English. More »

The Best Connected Cities Are In South Korea and Japan
The Best Connected Cities Are In South Korea and Japan. Flickr / Getty Images

According to Akamai, the worldwide network infrastructure of internet cables and the wireless signal is the fastest in South Korea and Japan.  The average bandwidth speed there is 22 Mbps, far above the United States (at a measly 8.4 Mbps). More »

70% of Web Traffic Is File Sharing
70% of Web Traffic Is File Sharing. Stone / Getty Images

Media and file sharing is the distribution of music, movies, software, books, photos, and other consumable content to users. Streaming YouTube videos are one flavor of file sharing. Torrent P2P is another very popular form of file sharing. There is online radio, which streams temporary copies of music to your device, along with Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify. Make no mistake: people want their media, and they want it so much that half of the World Wide Web's traffic is file sharing! More »

Online Dating Generates Over $1 Billion Each Year
Online Dating Generates Over $1 Billion Each Year. OJO Images / Getty Images

According to Reuters and PC World, the statistics for online dating in the USA are very high.  While this only partially translates to other countries, it is safe to say that people have accepted the value of using the World Wide Web to find love and friendship, even if it means shelling out 30 dollars a month on the credit card. More »