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  • 200 years ago, it took 12 days to deliver a message from New York City to London.

  • 150 years ago, the first transatlantic cable transmission was sent from the Queen of England

  • to the US President, taking 17 hours. 85 years ago, telephones became common household fixtures

  • and 30 years ago the first cell phone was invented, which weighed as much as an iron,

  • took 10 hours to charge for a 35 minute conversation, and cost almost $4000.

  • 20 years ago, the first text message was sent - a simpleMerry Christmas

  • - and today more people have mobile phones than toilets, with around 23 billion text messages being sent per day.

  • But how the hell do text messages even work?

  • When you tune a radio to a station, you pick up the information that is being sent out

  • via electromagnetic waves at a particular frequency - in this case they are radio waves.

  • These waves mostly just pass through our bodies without interacting at all,

  • but they are on the same spectrum as the visible light we see, just different in size.

  • Photons with wavelengths between 400-700 nanometers have the perfect level of energy to excite the rods and cones in your eyes,

  • which then transmit signals to your brain that you interpret as different colours.

  • But radio waves, which have wavelengths ranging from 100 microns to 100 kilometers,

  • are much lower energy and can’t excite your eyes - so they are invisible to us.

  • Similar to a radio, your cell phone receives signals at specific frequencies, but it can

  • also transmit its own radio waves back to a network at the same time.

  • The network is a system of towers, antennas and transmitters which divide a geographical area intocells

  • - hence the termcell phone’. These cells determine which areas are served by which towers,

  • though they generally overlap so that your phone always has a tower to communicate with.

  • Feel like your phone battery is losing power faster than normal? Phones transmit at higher levels indoors due to building materials,

  • in rural areas due to greater distance to the network antennas

  • and when moving at high speeds, like in a car, due to the frequent handover between network antennas.

  • When someone sends you a text, their phone transmits radio signals, which convey the

  • identity of both their phone and yours, along with the content of the message.

  • These signals are then picked up by the tower closest to them, which converts the radio waves into

  • a digital electrical impulse and passes it along to a hub of the network called a mobile switching center.

  • If youre out of range, or your phone is off, the message is stored

  • by the mobile switching center for a short time until you can be located by the network.

  • The network then figures out which tower you are closest to and passes the signal there.

  • Once at the tower nearest you, it’s converted back to a radio signal that can be picked

  • up by the antenna in your phone. This all happens in SECONDS!

  • Interestingly, traditional SMS text traffic actually peaked in 2011! Now, most people

  • send messages via internet services. In fact, last yearWhatsAppovertook

  • traditional SMS as the #1 handler of text messaging, managing 30 billion messages sent every day all around the world.

  • And if youre sending those messages across the world, it’s actually sent via

  • a giant cable that runs across the ocean floor.

  • In fact, 99% of all international data is sentvia undersea cables.

  • So what does the future of messaging look like? Were currently in the 4th generation of mobile communication networks, with 5G on the horizon.

  • And it’s actually been projected

  • that the technology for phones embedded in our bodies can be available as soon as 2023.

  • While only a few decades ago it may have taken months to send a love letter,

  • in just a few years you may be able to simply think of your loved one and send them a message to let them know you care.

  • We tackle humanity's new forms of communication in The Science of Emojis over on AsapTHOUGHT,

  • how theyre often misinterpreted, and how to use them properly.

  • Check it out with the link in the description!

  • And subscribe for more weekly science videos.

200 years ago, it took 12 days to deliver a message from New York City to London.

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B1 US radio network tower message transmit cell phone

Where Do Your Texts Go?

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    韓澐 posted on 2016/09/23
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