Feb 022011
 
Authors: Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer

If your week was anything like ours, over these past few days you all ran out to the local supermarkets and depleted their supplies of canned goods and Top Ramen in fear of your doors freezing shut in some crazy subzero welding process (I remember we had a lecture on that in Chem at some point). If you’re reading this now, you’ve obviously survived, so congrats!

But wait –– before you go and devour your Ramen smorgasbord in a gluttonous tornado of mastication, you might want to consider the unavoidable ‘IPacalypse’ that we as a world are about to face!

The Internet is about to run out of IP addresses. Before you run out your door screaming, starting riots and trying to get laid for the last time, you should know that odds are pretty good that most of us will survive this impending disaster.

If you don’t know what an IP address is, skip over to the sidebar so you can get a little taste of why they’re important.

Hey, good to have you back! Today’s column was prompted by some sensationalist headlines in the media claiming that “The Internet Runs Out of Spare Room This Week” (thanks for that gem Newser!).

Apologies for parodying these scare tactics. We do want to let you know what the fuss is about, so here’s a little background on our current situation.

By the time you read this, the last IP’s will have been assigned. As we write this, there are less than 3 million left but those will be gone in mere hours.

World Is Not Ending Fact #1: When those are gone, they still haven’t all been assigned to devices. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority has assigned them to the five Regional Internet Registries, who may not assign them for another three to six months or more, according to network software engineer Alain Durand via CNET.

WINE Fact #2: The overseers of the Interwebs are smarter than the average Jonas brother, and they came up with something called IPv6 (we’re currently using IPv4). It uses this super intense algorithm called “the alphabet” in order to add 26 characters to our IP addresses. This will give us somewhere around 3.4×1038 (for the curious crowd, that’s 3.8 undecillion) new addresses.

So what all should we take away from this? Today when you get on to check your Facebook, take a moment to hum your ABCs in thanks.

WINE Fact #3: Everyone knows we still have 11 more months until 2012 and everyone and their Mayan ancestors knows that’s when the world ends. Not now.

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer heard that J-Biebs might not actually make it through the IPacalypse, bless his soul. Send your tributes, questions and comments to verve@collegian.com.

What is an IP address?

Short for Internet Protocol address, an IP address is the Internet-equipped device’s equivalent to a mailing address. Computers have them, smart phones have them, servers, websites, iPod touches and anything else that uses the Internet has one. You might recognize one; they look like this: 74.125.224.48 (that’s Google’s).

How many are being used? There are around 4 billion of them right now. Without them, none of those devices can connect to the Internet; they’d just sit there and serve up ugly error messages.

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