No, we're not talking about former Senator Ted Stevens's clumsy description of the Internet; this article from the Stanford School of Medicine Web site instead describes the wildly cool pneumatic tube system used by Stanford Hospital staff to send lab samples around at speeds up to 25 feet (7.6 m) per second - that's roughly 18 miles (30 km) per hour. Pneumatic tube systems were cutting edge communication technology way back in the 19th century, but when it comes to transporting physical objects, they retain their utility even in today's networked age. follow link
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- ExtraBITS for 25 January 2010 (24 Jan 10)
It Really Is a "Series of Tubes"
Costco has been using this system for years to send cash from the checkout registers to the office.
Now that you mention it, I remember that from our days in Seattle (no Costcos anywhere around Ithaca).
They can be used for bits also. When I worked in New York City in the mid-70's I remember being told of a pneumatic tube system running between the major bank head offices downtown and midtown branches. It was easy to show that stuffing one of the carriers with floppy disks (they were 8" in those days) and sending them along created a higher bandwidth pipe than any of the available telecommunication links of the day! Using tubes today with BlueRay discs you could manage a burst rate of 10 GB/s or so over a couple of miles.