It was born 40 years ago, in a lab at the University of California, Los Angeles. Today it wraps the entire planet and features in the daily routine of more than 1.5 billion people.
Of course, it’s easy to take the internet for granted and forget that it’s very much a work in progress.
So what forces are shaping it, how big has it grown, and will it ever evolve a mind of its own? To find out, New Scientist posed eight simple questions
The official answer is no one, but it is a half-truth that few swallow
In engineering terms, it is easy to see similarities between the human brain and the internet’s complex network of nodes, so could conciousness be the next step?
In 2008, Google announced that its systems had registered a trillion unique pages – but even this might represent a fraction of what is out there
The internet is a disparate mix of interconnected computers, many of them on large networks run by universities, businesses and so on – so what unites them, if anything?
Real-estate prices crashing, a big drop in growth, the threat of infrastructure collapse, and authorities printing more money to stave off disaster – that’s just the virtual world
There are plenty of places online that you would do well to steer clear of: some could leave your computer infected with worms or viruses – then there are the “black holes”
Sending an email across the Atlantic Ocean does not burn any jet fuel, but the internet is not without its own, huge carbon footprint