Last year we wrote about German company PediaPress’ desire to print out the whole of Wikipedia (Can You Imagine Printing Wikipedia? PediaPress Can & They Want To) in attempt to display the true size of the site.
Now British student Evangeline Walker, from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Science at the University of Leicester, has calculated exactly how many sheets of standard A4 paper it would take to print out the entire visible web, including all the pictures of cats.
According to the paper she published with fellow researcher George Harwood in the university’s peer-reviewed journal, you’d need 136 billion sheets of paper. Or, as Business Insider calculated, enough paper to cover almost the whole distance from London to Papua New Guinea (about 13 300km).
You’d definitely need to stock up on a whole lot of printer cartridges to get that job done.
To get to the staggeringly huge number, Walker and Harwood worked out that it would take over 70 million pieces of paper to print out Wikipedia, based on an average of 15 pages per article. They then applied this logic to the internet’s 4.5 billion pages.
Lastly, the calculated how many trees in the Amazon rainforest it would take to make that much paper, assuming that all tress could be used to make paper and that each tree could produce 8 500 sheets of paper.
While you would expect that figure to be huge (and it is), the 16 million trees it would take would make up less than 1% of the entire Amazon (which contains an estimated 400 billion trees).
Walker and Harwood’s figures only apply to the so-called visible internet – the internet you and I are able to search for using normal search engines. They estimate that this “non-explicit” material makes up a measly 0.2% of the internet and that the rest lurks in the “dark web”.
While printing all of this could lead to deforestation and cause a recycling disaster, finding space for it all (and making sure you had enough ink and toner to print it all) would be your biggest problem.
Source: The Telegraph