Mars and back in 40 minutes The Age

“The speed of light is far too slow for the internet of the future,” says Vinton Cerf, the man often called one of the fathers of the global communications system on which most of the world now depends. He was speaking in Melbourne yesterday to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, drawing a picture of the huge social and economic impact the internet will have on the world in the next five years and beyond. His problem with the speed of light is related to an interplanetary communications “backbone” due to be implemented in 2009 to speed investigation of the solar system. Scientists will use internet technology to communicate with robots touring Mars, but, Dr Cerf said, there was a problem – even at the speed of light, a message took 20 minutes to get to Earth and 20 more to get back to Mars.