Lava Lamps working hard

Code is highly logical and predictable. That's why it's powerful. Code can kill randomness to great extent. But there are certain operations where randomness is desired. Where you may praise intern code that was giving random outputs.

One such operation is encryption. It's the process where you replace words in such a way that only people with the decryption key can decode. One example is you replace each alphabet with the number like a=>1, b=>2, c=>3. So "code" becomes 3-15-4-5. This is what Alan Turing was decoding during WW2.

To encrypt the data that you read while visiting any webpage, even this LinkedIn post, computers need a random encryption key. Creating these many keys frequently is a hard challenge if you are handling 10 trillion requests every month. So Cloudflare took inspiration from one of the Patent US5732138A (filed 26 years ago!) and made a wall of Lava Lamps that gets captured by a camera. This camera feed generates a random number based on the position of lava liquid in lamps (which is truly random and unpredictable).

Lava Lamp in Patent US5732138A

This is on public display in Cloudflare headquarters. Would it disturb the camera feed if you go and see it? Yes, because that's what we desire here, more randomness!

Anmol Saini

Anmol Saini