Google Crawler and Lightning Leader.

Hearkening back to chapter 20, discussion of Google’s action of finding the shortest route to a relevant response, I want to tie in the action of lightning strikes to the discussion. Google uses exceptional speed and accuracy to transverse the billions of visible internet sites to locate the most relevant response to a given query. Similarly, as is colloquially known, lightning finds the shortest path to the ground.  Although both tasks seems impossible given the multitude of possible routes that a query or a lightning charge might take, both rely on prior mapping in order to find the fastest route.

Just as Google “crawls” the internet to gain knowledge of the architecture of the internet’s sites before queries are made, lightning tests out routes in the air before releasing its current. The cloud sends out negatively charged “leaders” that branch in may different directions on on the way down from the cloud at 60 miles/second. These leaders are not the actual lightning strike, but rather a means of charting out the possible pathways that lightning might follow. When the leaders connect with a positive leader from a high ground object, the pathway is then open for the cloud to discharge in the form of a lightning strike. Thus, the speed of the observable event relies on the effectiveness of a broad planning/mapping procedure.

In terms of the theory of networks, we have used the idea of a person finding their way quickly across the city in the shortest time. There are many possible routes and they vary in distance. An individual can only see the turns that are directly in from of them and therefore are subject to the chance of finding a fast route. We use maps to avoid this problem by taking a prior survey of all routes and then selecting the faster one.




2 thoughts on “Google Crawler and Lightning Leader.”

  1. It’s interesting to compare a Google query and a lighting strike. It begs the question, could Google or another technology company actually use their understanding of lightning strikes to predict where they will occur with a reasonable amount of confidence? Just some food for thought, although it may be wildly out of their scope. Then again, we all know they have been known to create some wacky/brilliant product prototypes in their Google X secret lab.

  2. Wow. Cool post! I think that the idea of Google’s network and how lightening operates is a fantastic way to compare how networks work in action. The idea that people use maps in an analogous way that lightening uses these “leaders” is an interesting comparison, and I wonder if humans also use crowd sourcing as an additional way to make these decisions. We have leaders, or role models in our lives that have lived through experiences we are currently encountering, and often we look to them for our guidance on how to traverse things, whether it be graduate school, a test, or even the fastest way to get down town. Could it be possible that we use our own “leaders” to ensure that we do things in the fastest way possible? This could also influence how information is spread, and could lead to cascades of information if the proper people receive the information in the right order (also close to an epidemic, of ideas…). This article definitely has potential to talk about how information is spread in a quick way, like Google or lightening.

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