Perhaps you live in a developed nation, or a pocket of a developing nation, where internet access is a relatively cheap commodity. Count yourself lucky. Right now, 5 billion people — or two thirds of the world’s population — lack access to an affordable and reliable Internet connection. Which means they lack access to critical information — medical information that can save lives; scientific information that can improve farming; technical information necessary to build a modern economy; and educational resources that can cultivate young minds.
With Project Loon, Google is launching an audacious experiment that will hopefully make a dent in this serious problem. The experiment involves putting a fleet of high-altitude balloons into the air. Powered solely by the wind and the sun, the balloons will fly high into the stratosphere, well above where commercial planes fly, and they’ll beam Internet access back to the ground ”at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster,” claims Google’s main blog. (The clip below explains the gist of the technology.) Right now, they’re running a small scale test in New Zealand (in Christchurch and Canterbury, to be exact) and you can monitor the progress over at Project Loon’s Google Plus page. In the meantime, we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope the entire world can soon enjoy our collection of Free Online Courses, not to mention the other random curiosities found on the web.