(Roughly) Daily

“Water sustains all”*…

… that includes the massive data centers on which our on-line lives are increasingly dependent… which could be problematic…

Drought conditions are worsening in the U.S., and that is having an outsized impact on the real estate that houses the internet.

Data centers generate massive amounts of heat through their servers because of the enormous amount of power they use. Water is the cheapest and most common method used to cool the centers.

In just one day, the average data center could use 300,000 gallons of water to cool itself — the same water consumption as 100,000 homes, according to researchers at Virginia Tech who also estimated that one in five data centers draws water from stressed watersheds mostly in the west.

“There is, without a doubt, risk if you’re dependent on water,” said Kyle Myers, vice president of environmental health, safety & sustainability at CyrusOne, which owns and operates over 40 data centers in North America, Europe, and South America. “These data centers are set up to operate 20 years, so what is it going to look like in 2040 here, right?”…

Data centers are scrambling to find sustainable solutions: “Microsoft, Meta and others face rising drought risk to their data centers,” from @CNBCtech.

See also: “The Secret Cost of Google’s Data Centers: Billions of Gallons of Water to Cool Servers” (source of the image above).

* Thales of Miletus

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As we contemplate conservation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910 that French chemist, engineer, and inventor Georges Claude switched on the first public display of neon lights– two large (39 foot long), bright red neon tubes– at the Paris Motor Show.  Over the next decade, Claude lit much of Paris.  Neon came to America in 1923 when Earl Anthony purchased signage from Claude, then transported it to Los Angeles, where Anthony installed it at his Packard dealership… and (literally) stopped traffic.

Claude in his lab, 1913  source

While the market for neon lighting in outdoor advertising signage has declined since the mid twentieth century (in many instances replaced by flexible LEDs, which use less electricity), in recent decades neon lighting has been used consciously in art, both in individual objects and integrated into architecture (or as below, landscape).

Long Now Foundation Fellow Alicia Eggert‘s neon piece: more details

Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 3, 2022 at 1:00 am

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