In a reminder of just how fragile this web we've weaved across the globe is, a ship dropped anchor outside the Kenyan port of Mombasa and happened to hit a bundle of undersea fiber optic cables connecting east Africa to the Internet. Now, the BBC reports, six countries -- Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and a piece of South Sudan -- are going to experience Internet slowdowns as less pipe is available to carry the same amount of traffic.
As much as Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was mocked for calling the Internet "a series of tubes," the Internet's physical manifestation looks a lot like (surprise!) a series of tubes.
It's difficult to find great photos or descriptions of laying undersea cable (i.e. tubes), but Alcatel-Lucent released a video of one of its ships being loaded up with cable to an epic soundtrack. The most mindblowing shot comes about 1:45 into the video in which we get to look at the GIGANTIC spool off which the cable is pulled. It's 20 feet tall and wound many feet deep.
The art and science of laying underwater cable have been around since the days of the telegraph, when Americans tried desperately to connect themselves to Europe via an underwater link. Here's what the old apparatus used to look like.