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domingo, 17 de octubre de 2010

Will Google meet a sea of opportunities?

Did you know that a Google Search consumes the power equivalent to that needed to prepare a cup of tea in a microwave oven?

At a meeting in Washington I had the opportunity to meet the vicepresident of Google, a fascinating individual, and learned that the highest component of the costs of operating Google is the energy required to supply and mantain temperature conditions adequate for the servers. Indeed, he told me that a Google Search consumes the power equivalent to that needed to prepare a cup of tea in a microwave oven. I was fsaberglaster!

This piece of information may help you make sense of recent news that Google is to invest heavily on off-shore aeolian power (e.g
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20101012/APF/1010121217). Moreover, in case you missed it the interest of Google on marine energy is not new as last year Google a patented a design of a barge loaded with servers to be morred in coastal waters with the servers to be powered with wave energy (two large antena-like rotating drums that generate energy from the motion induced by wave action upon them).

Google’s interest in reducing their carbon footprint is quite positive, as it also help us reduce our footprint when we hit the “Google search” button. Moreover, the drive that Google can give to the development of marine energy may bring about a new untapped resource to mitigate climate change. Marine energy abounds in the ocean: from the wind moving over the ocean surface, from the waves it generates, from the huge tidal fluxes induced by gravitational forces on planet Earth (tidal range reaches 17 m in Ungava Bay, Quebec, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ungava_Bay), and the thermal and chemical gradients in ocean waters.

The ocean is a unique resource, that sets Planet Earth appart from the over 400 planets known to date. Yet, we ignore this blue jewel, which we have explored less than we have explored the surface of Mars. Turn your eyes and your intelect to the ocean, and meet a sea of opportunities. Next time you make a search in Google you may well be powered by ocean waves and wind!

Carlos M. Duarte

Carlos received his Biology Ph.D in 1987 from McGill University and became a Research Professor Spanish Research Council (CSIC). President of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, and Director of Global Change Research at CSIC, in 2008 Carlos receiveds the Spanish National Science Award and in 2010 was honoured with an Honorary Doctorate from UQAM, Montreal.

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