When talking about weight, the subject is most often physical things – like a person’s weight or maybe the weight of a new supercar. But have you ever wondered what data weighs? We give you the answer to that and tell you what the entire Internet weighs.
Does data have a weight?
There is data in everything you read, watch, download or upload online. All these things can be measured and depending on their size, they are measured in bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes or even terabytes. Read more about file size here.
Even though you can’t feel the weight of electronic data, it does have a very, very small weight. The Internet runs on electrons and this is also how data is stored. As an example, a normal e-mail of 50 kb would require approx. 8 billion electrons, and because we know how much a single electron weighs, we can calculate the weight of data.
How heavy is data?
One stored data byte is estimated to have a physical weight of around 1 attogram, meaning one-quintillionth of a gram (that’s 1e-18 or 1 followed by 18 zeros).
Computer scientist at the University of California, Professor John Kubiatowicz, has used Einstein’s formula e=mc² to calculate, that filling a 4GB Kindle would increase it by 0.000000000000000001 gram. That means, only the theoretical weight will increase as we currently don’t have any measurements fine enough to measure this difference.
How much does the entire Internet weigh?
Everything we upload on the Internet from the information we share to chatting with friends and family and posting pictures on social media makes the world wide web a more vast and complex space. Since the first website went live in 1991, more than 1.7 billion websites have been created and it is estimated that 75-100 million servers are operating to make the Internet work. (Source: Internet Live Stats)
Following the calculation method with the weight of an electron, the weight of the entire Internet is calculated to be around 50 grams – the same as a large strawberry. Watch this video by VSauce to get the full explanation.