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Snails, slugs, and speed

Snails carry mail faster than postmen, says a January 25, 2008 Reuters report. This sets up a potential data transport contest/showdown between snails and slugs (see below for the slug part of it). The snail report says:

WARSAW – It’s official. Postal delivery is as slow as snails, at least in Poland.

An IT worker, after receiving a letter on January 3 that was sent on December 20 as priority mail, calculated that a snail would have made it even faster to his home than the letter. Daily Gazeta Wyborcza said Michal Szybalski calculated that it took 294 hours for the letter to arrive at his home. He also said the distance between his home and the sender was 11.1 kilometres. Given the distance and the time, the speed of the letter was 0.03775 kilometres per hour. Szybalski calculated that a garden snail travels at around 0.048 kilometres per hour.

The slug speed record was published in the July/August 2005 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research, in a research report called Sluggish Data Transport Is Faster Than ADSL. The authors say:

We describe an experiment in which a Giant African Snail, acting as a data transfer agent, exceeded all known ?lastmile? communications technologies in terms of bit-per-second performance, adding to the many paradoxes of broadband communications. We discuss the unique motivational and guidance systems necessary to facilitate snail-based data transport, and observe with satisfaction that in a society that worships the fittest, fastest, and furtherest, the meek and the slow can sometimes outperform all known competitors, giving rise to the new and exciting field of sluggish data networks.

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