This story begins with one little text message from New York to Shanghai, a trip that takes just 1/20th of a second. “That’s the time it takes light to traverse 10,000 kilometers.” And that’s what happens millions and millions of times every hour all over the planet. “All of that is carried by the fiber optic network that none of us can see, but all of us will use.”

This story is The Story of Light, one in the Future Impossible series by Bell Labs and the team at Lonelyleap:

When Alexander Graham Bell discovered that sound could be carried by light, he never could have imagined the millions of written text and audio and video communications that would one day be transmitted around the world every second on a single strand of fiber with the dimensions of a human hair.

Watch these next: 40 Years of Cellphone, what happens when you send an email, life as a lighthouse keeper, and how does the internet work?