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The internet is often called the “World Wide Web,” but it’s not actually accessible to residents of a large portion of the world. Today, four billion people are offline, and 1.6 billion of them live in sparsely populated areas around the world. In recent years, a race to solve that problem has emerged among big tech companies like Google, SpaceX and Facebook. Now, Facebook has published research on an unconventional solution: using light to wirelessly transmit internet signals.

Most internet signals today are transmitted at high rates through wired optical fiber networks — which require expensive infrastructure — or at lower rates through wireless radio frequencies, which are limited in bandwidth, subject to regulations and vulnerable to interception.

In a paper published in Optica, researchers from Internet.org’s Connectivity Lab have outlined a new type of light detector that can be used for free-space optical communication, a communication technique that uses light to send data wirelessly. (1)

Data through light.

Look around.

At the sunlight. The grass. The shiny spoon. The TV. The floor. The cat. The door. The small airplane above. The car passing by.

Light is all around you. The story of the cosmos.

Light. From the beginning of time, it has always been there. Transmitted, generated, affected by every single moment of existence.

The story of aeons is here.

The story of the cosmos – past, present and future alike – is before you. Your eyes see it. But your mind is unwilling to watch.

Look!

A car passed by.

Look!

The cosmos was just created!

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