Vinton Cerf: Interplanetary googler

By Julian Matthews

It is hard to imagine the always dapper Vinton Grey Cerf used to enjoy blowing up things.

At the age of 10, he got his first chemistry set and, together with a cohort, made match-head rockets and mixed chemicals to mimic volcanoes in his backyard in California.Vint Cerf

“I read a book called The Boy Scientist and knew I wanted to be one,” he says.

Today, half a century later, that incendiary boy is the acknowledged “father of the Internet”. And it comes as no surprise he’s still dabbling with rocket science. Cerf is currently a visiting scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The admitted sci-fi buff is laying the specs for mankind’s first extraterrestrial contact and taking the Internet to infinity and beyond; to boldly go where no modem has been before.

In this interview, the amiable co-inventor of TCP/IP — the data transmission protocols that formed the basis for the Internet on earth 30 years ago — reveals he is partial to fine wine, channel surfs for Star Trek re-runs and personally books his wife’s hotel rooms on trips.

Vint, as he prefers to be called, also talks about the shuttle tragedy and the implications for the Interplanetary Internet project and comments on the infernal menace of spam, blogging and the dire possibility of an Internet “takedown”.

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