Feathered Veterans
November 11, 2012 7:17 AM   Subscribe

In France, a Mission to Return the Military's Carrier Pigeons to Active Duty — Grounded After Modern Communication Devices Soared, Birds May Offer Low-Tech Solutions; No Round Trips [WSJ]. Let us not forget Le Vaillant, Cher Ami, and the other birds that save lives.
posted by cenoxo (13 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Not foolproof
posted by BWA at 7:39 AM on November 11, 2012

True, and low-tech warfare can also be adopted quickly by one's enemies: Closing the Pigeon Gap.
posted by cenoxo at 8:09 AM on November 11, 2012

So what is the bandwidth of a pigeon carrying a 32GB micro SD card?
posted by Western Infidels at 8:23 AM on November 11, 2012

IPoAC (IP over Avian Carriers):
During the last 20 years, the information density of storage media and thus the bandwidth of an Avian Carrier has increased 3 times faster than the bandwidth of the Internet.[3] IPoAC may achieve bandwidth peaks of orders of magnitude more than the Internet when used with multiple Avian Carriers in rural areas.

For example: If 16 homing pigeons are given 8 32GB SD cards each [16 x 8 x 32 GB = 4096 GB (~4 petabytes)], and take an hour to reach their destination, the throughput of the transfer would be 9320Mbit/s, excluding transfer to and from the SD cards.
Give each pigeon the same 32 GB message and you've got 16-fold redundancy in case of shootdowns (or warm chimneys).
posted by cenoxo at 8:53 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

...make that ~4 terabytes.
posted by cenoxo at 9:02 AM on November 11, 2012

Whats the matter, cat got your server.
posted by clavdivs at 9:35 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Songbirds would be ideal for tweeting.
posted by philipy at 9:39 AM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

cenexo, that WWI article is really interesting. Thanks.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:53 AM on November 11, 2012

Just to show up France, we'll be having turducken with a solidstate drive instead of stuffing.
posted by hal9k at 10:05 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I heard something on NPR not too long ago about South Africa's Internet being so slow that a carrier pigeon with a thumb drive attached was faster than emailing a large file.
posted by 4ster at 2:20 PM on November 11, 2012

The movie "The Lost Battalion" depicts the story of Cher Ami (warning: gory). The entire movie is on YouTube and I consider it one of the best war movies I've seen (even though it's a low budget, made-for-TV movie).
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:33 PM on November 11, 2012

The French politician is hawkish about pigeons. Surely that's a canard.
posted by philipy at 3:06 PM on November 11, 2012

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