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Research Reveals Internet "Black Holes"
Written by Daniel   
Wednesday, 09 April 2008 13:40

What some users thought was their imagination turns out to be a very real problem

Jason Mick (Blog) - April 9, 2008 11:22 AM

Sometimes you try to reach a site and mysteriously you can't get to it. Perhaps you think its simply your imagination, something wrong with your computer, or perhaps the site is under attack. Or maybe the server that the site is hosted on went down.

However, the cause could be far more mysterious. With the massive amount of users trafficing the internet today, weird things are bound to happen, but about the strangest perhaps is the recently discovered, but long suspected phenomena of internet "black holes." Traffic is unintentionally routed into these holes at times, forever lost, even though a working path existed between the sending computer and receiving computer.

University of Washington researchers developed a system known as Hubble, which scours the dark depths of the internet for black holes, posting the results on the website. The result is an ever-shifting map of the internet's weak spots. Users can view a specific map or type in a specific web address to type for problems.  The University will present its research at the San Francisco at the Usenix Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.

Ethan Katz-Bassett, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering, explains how the research debunks the common misconception that if both the sender are receiver are active, the internet "just works." Says Katz-Bassett, "There's an assumption that if you have a working Internet connection then you have access to the entire Internet. We found that's not the case."

The scientists named the project after its NASA telescope namesake as they saw its search and mapping through mazes of cables and routers as analogous to the Hubble telescope's search of the the murky cosmic depths. The practice of finding analogies between cosmology and internet research is actually quite common, in fact study of the internet is oft labeled as "Internet astronomy". Explains Katz-Bassett, "It's the idea of peering into the depths of something and trying to figure out what's going on, without having direct access."

[Dailytech...]   [Comments...]


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