A Google Mystery on the High Seas

By Doug Barney October 28, 2013

Google may like to do interesting things, but these have always been, well, short of the bizarre. Until now. Visitors to San Francisco have been eyeballing a 250-foot long barge stacked with four racks of shipping containers.

That’s not so unusual. What is odd is the owner of this colossus – Google. Google is keeping mum and no matter how much we ourselves Google the term “Google barge” we just come up with rumors. Some believe it is a new age data center using sea water for cooling. Google even has a patent for such an approach. Other’s believe that it is a strange new way to sell stuff, and could be a floating store for Google Glass.

Either way, the presence of all the shipping containers makes little sense. Did the barge come with them and they’ll be sold off and removed? What could be there purpose? Does Google hope to sell that many Google Glasses? The company is ambitious, but that would be a stretch.

Our best guess? A barge with four stories of containers attracts a lot more attention than one that’s empty.Another theory. With highly paid Google employees buying up all the expensive San Fran digs, the company needs a place for lowlier workers to live. Just kidding.

Adding to the mystery, black nets cover all the containers. We can’t imagine such netting has any purpose other than to attract attention.

Greening of Google

Google has been forced to be on the forefront of green computing. After all, data centers drive virtually everything the company does. And much of the energy consumption comes from cooling all those hot computers.

That has led big computing consumers to build datacenters in caves, underground bunkers and cool climates like Iceland. Seawater is typically far cooler than the surrounding environment and water is an efficient way to cool.

But if Google is building a data center on water, it hasn’t even applied for permits. Meanwhile reports have it that San Francisco would not allow something to be done on the bay that could just as easily be accomplished on land. Of course, since barges float it could just as easily be moved to place that allows its use.


Edited by Stefania Viscusi

TechZone360 Editor at Large

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