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ET Will Phone Home Using Neutrinos, Not Photons

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the speak-and-spell-is-cross-particle-compatible dept.

Space 299

KentuckyFC writes "Neutrinos are better than photons for communicating across the galaxy. That's the conclusion of a group of US astronomers who say that the galaxy is filled with photons that make communications channels noisy whereas neutrino comms would be relatively noise free. Photons are also easily scattered and the centre of the galaxy blocks them entirely. That means any civilisation advanced enough to have started to colonise the galaxy would have to rely on neutrino communications. And the astronomers reckon that the next generation of neutrino detectors should be sensitive enough to pick up ET's chatter."

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299 comments

Imagine the first alien message! (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473980)

We'll learn precisely what kind of chemical product aliens use to enlarge their penis.

Re:Imagine the first alien message! (1, Funny)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473988)

It's not a penis, it's a snerkleopter.

Re:Imagine the first alien message! (0, Flamebait)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474006)

It's not a penis, it's a snerkleopter.
Quoting your stepfather?

Re:Imagine the first alien message! (1)

CFTM (513264) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474442)

It's not a snerkleopter, it's a jagon dammit!

I love South Park [wikipedia.org] :)

Re:Imagine the first alien message! (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474568)

I have a snacklefroo, you insensitive clod!

Re:Imagine the first alien message! (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474614)

What makes you think an extraterrestrial would have anything that remotely resembles a penis?

Re:Imagine the first alien message! (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474674)

Sweet!

Re:Imagine the first alien message! (3, Funny)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474770)

For a person that quotes Hitchhiker's Guide in their sig, you've got an awfully pesimistic view on the comedic potential of the universe.

Re:Imagine the first alien message! (2, Funny)

bondjamesbond (99019) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474662)

1) Make a neutrino sniffer
2) Reverse engineer alien penis enlargement chemical.
3) Adapt it to Earthlings.
3) PROFIT!

eeeeeteeeeeaaaaaaaa phooooneee hoooooome (1)

m1ndrape (971736) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474018)

no motherfucker, my heart doesn't pulsate a glowing red beat when i'm phoning home, i'm trying to call intergalactic 911. I just hope this planet's infestation of nuclear energy plants don't interfere with my photon based universal gps locator

OK I got dibs (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474020)

on the patent for using neutrinos for communications, OK? All other patent trolls, stay off, this baby is mine!

Re:OK I got dibs (3, Interesting)

ttapper04 (955370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474074)

One may eventually draw a comparison between the huge underground neutrino detectors and the room sized computer.

Re:OK I got dibs (2, Funny)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474182)

I for one don't want to be carrying around a billion light-years of solid lead worth of mass in my back pocket to be able to pick up a signal.. this seems like a problem with physics, not with how advanced the tech is.

Re:OK I got dibs (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474332)

I for one don't want to be carrying around a billion light-years of solid lead worth of mass in my back pocket to be able to pick up a signal.. this seems like a problem with physics, not with how advanced the tech is.

Any civilization advanced enough to colonize the galaxy probably has figured out how to negate - or at least deal with - the mass of these pocket-blackholes they'd have to carry around.

Civil rights of aliens (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474058)

Can I assume they'll need galactic warrants for these cosmic wiretaps?

Re:Civil rights of aliens (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474142)

Of course not. They are a matter on national security, the president can bypass the need for a warrant.

Re:Civil rights of aliens (5, Interesting)

grantek (979387) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474216)

Of course, ET'll be using transport-layer encryption we've never seen, so it'll just look like random noise and we'll dismiss aliens again :)

Re:Civil rights of aliens (5, Funny)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474324)

Thank you, Frank Shoemaker!

Re:Civil rights of aliens (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474638)

Thank you, Frank Shoemaker!

All your basse are belong to us!

Re:Civil rights of aliens (1, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474328)

No, because ET will be required by law to release his encryption method and keys.

Re:Civil rights of aliens (1)

Steve Max (1235710) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474844)

Actually, no. If they broadcast spherically or in a beam towards us, there is nothing that would deflect the neutrinos and not the light: we will be able to pinpoint their exact arrival direction. We will see, say, 1000 neutrinos of PeV energies from one 1Â angular window, and 10 from the rest of the sky. Unless we are really unlucky, there will be no natural PeV neutrino source (GRB [wikipedia.org] , AGN [wikipedia.org] , etc) at that window, so we will at the very least know there is something there. Some parallax calculations and planet-searching later, we will probably find them.

Very interesting idea here.

Neutrino@Home (5, Funny)

Metorical (1241524) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474070)

Does this mean I have to leave my computer on running Neutrino@Home listening for Extra Terrestrials while destroying my home planet?

Still bound by the speed of light (4, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474080)

Any civilization that wants to communicate across the galaxy is going to use something (and I don't know what that something would be) other than a particle that can't travel faster than light. The Milky Way is about 100,000ly across, so the ping times from one side to the other would be 200,000 years - try playing Intergalactic Counter Strike over that.

Neutrinos might be good for short distances (100ly), but then, you're less likely to encounter interference sources. Since photons are easier to emit and detect, they are the more likely choice.

In summary: photons for short distances, since interference isn't a factor and nothing for long distances since lag time makes meaningful communication impossible.

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474196)

I supposed you believe Star Trek is a documentary.

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474208)

How exactly would neutrinos be good for 100ly distances? Intergalactic Counter-Strike would be equally unplayable with 200 year latency as 200,000 year latency.

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (2, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474566)

With a 200ly lag, you could still hold a meaningful conversation. You might not be able to play CS, but you could transmit the works of Shakespeare and have them get there before your species is long extinct.

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (2, Funny)

genderbunny (1190319) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474210)

You're missing the point: this technology will finally allow us to tune into the last millennium's alien HBO.

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (5, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474226)

The Milky Way is about 100,000ly across, so the ping times from one side to the other would be 200,000 years - try playing Intergalactic Counter Strike over that.
You're assuming a being that senses time as we do. An alien creature might live for millions of years and generate the simplest thought in years. two hundred thousand years might be a blink, for them.

The time from big bang to big crunch might be a "day" for them. Our entire civilization would be like a lightning flash. They'd consider carbon based civilizations as random events that cover entire galaxies in an instant and then fade to void by the next.

If that's the case, I don't think we'd be much interested in their messages, though.

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (5, Insightful)

sysusr (971503) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474316)

The time from big bang to big crunch might be a "day" for them. Our entire civilization would be like a lightning flash.
Are you suggesting some sort of hyper-slow motion state (metabolism, perception etc)? If so, that would be an extreme natural disadvantage. They wouldn't even be able to keep up with the geological events on their home planet, let alone adapt to predators.

Such a species cannot survive. Even a lack of natural predators wouldn't help: geologically active planets would take care of them.

"Nature always finds a way."

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (4, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474382)

Such a species cannot survive. Even a lack of natural predators wouldn't help: geologically active planets would take care of them.
Such a species could be "big" enough as to not be affected by such measly matters.

Such a species might live and sense the universe in several more dimensions than us. A single galaxy in a single three dimensional volume might be the smallest of it's body "cells".

Planetary geological activity would bother them about as much as quark behavior bothers us. i.e.: They'd need much advancement to even be able to detect it.

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (4, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474704)

Such a species cannot survive

Not if they're made of meat [baetzler.de] .

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474364)

you're assuming a being that senses time linearly, like we do. Might I suggest a little Kurt Vonnegut [wikipedia.org] for your enjoyment

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474362)

In summary: photons for short distances, since interference isn't a factor and nothing for long distances since lag time makes meaningful communication impossible.
... Ansible, anyone?

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (1)

bmgoau (801508) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474380)

See Tachyons...

They are undetected theorised particles that travel faster then the speed of light. However physicists doubt their ability to carry information.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachyon [wikipedia.org]

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (1)

solweil (1168955) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474418)

How about quantum entanglement? That seems to take care of the speed of light problem.

Re:Still bound by the speed of light (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474424)

I am always surprised by a narrow vision that speed of light is slow. It is damn fast if a being (whatever form it has, as long as it has some king of integral self-consciousness) lives say hundred of thousand years, and there is no reason it can't. On the other hand we have no indication in physics that anything can travel faster than light (and do not start with for that purpose useless entanglement). If we will (ever) discover something faster then light, then we can start to talk about its use in communication engineering. Until that it is just a sci-fi mumbo-jumbo trash...

Encryption? (2, Interesting)

emakinen (875208) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474084)

Do you think that ET will be using encryption?

Encryption? Probably Not Intentionally... (2, Informative)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474248)

Encoding likely, hopefully binary. We'll have to figure out ET's communicative symbology after the pleasantry of exchanging "assumed to be universally consistent" math facts in whatever encoding. Then, assuming we can receive and decode, we have to try to understand ET's symbology with no common base. Then, we have to interpret ET's intent along with the message. Might take longer than the Fermi-labs mystery letter.

Re:Encryption? (1)

bogado (25959) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474298)

They would not be using encryption, if they want to be heard. If they don't want to be heard then they would be using it and it would hard to tell communication apart from background noise.

Re:Encryption? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474462)

I was thinking about that the other day.. what if the radio telescopes are picking up alien noise all the time but it's compressed/encrypted? There's no way of telling that from background noise.

If you think about a lot of the noise that earth sends out it's increasingly encrypted, so the window of unencrypted easily detectable data is maybe 50 years... a blink in galactic time.

Re:Encryption? (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474728)

Do you think that ET will be using encryption?

Even if not, they'd still likely be using data compression, making it look like noise. I don't expect we'd be able to recognize a standard communication signal.

If we find a signal, it'll either be a deliberate hail like the Arecibo message, or a bit of technological noise, like the DEW and astronomical radar signals we transmit.

In three decades, we have sent only sixteen deliberate hails [wikipedia.org] . If other civilizations are as quiet as us, the odds of hearing a hail are low - I can imagine a galaxy teeming with technological civilizations, each waiting for somebody else to open a conversation.

Recognizing technological noise is hard, as our bias is going to be to assume a natural origin. It's possible that we've got some bit of astrophysics wrong because some phenomenon we assumed was natural and worked into our theories was actual static from ET's Criswell structures. At best we might see something like the Wow! Signal [bigear.org] : we see something but we don't know what it is.

What about those from the sun? (5, Insightful)

molo (94384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474096)

I thought there were billions of neutrinos coming from the Sun every second. Wouldn't that provide a lot of noise to drown out your signal?

-molo

Re:What about those from the sun? (1, Informative)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474184)

Indeed there are, every second, about 70 billion (7Ã--e10) solar neutrinos pass through every square centimeter on Earth. Even more to the point, unless we can come up with a wildly more efficient detector than current ones, because of those 70 billion in round numbers to the nearest billion 70 pass straight through and out the other side.

Re:What about those from the sun? (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474212)

Solar neutrinos tend to come from a predictable direction.

Betrayed by Direction of Travel (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474310)

Unless, of course, ET has a real hot pad.

Re:What about those from the sun? (2, Informative)

loimprevisto (910035) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474338)

TFA mentions this problem, and pretty much rules out the possibility of using low energy neutrinos. A significant part of the paper is about picking just the right neutrino energy to communicate on.

Re:What about those from the sun? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474644)

The sun emits a hell of a lot of photons, too.

Re:What about those from the sun? (4, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474694)

There's also billions of photons coming out of the Sun every second. Yet we still use light to communicate.

Too little too late? (1, Interesting)

sysusr (971503) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474098)

Surely the vastness of space would make any sort of standard communication, whether using protons or neutrinos, unfeasible. Who wants to wait 6 minutes for a message to travel the distance between the Earth and our sun?

Unless aliens have some sort of incredible way of communicating through subspace, or wormholes, or some other fantastic medium through which they can shorten or eliminate the pesky problem of distance, neutrinos over photons won't make too much of a difference, even if they are used solely for advertising their presence.

Re:Too little too late? (1)

wobbelyheadbob (886026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474140)

Ever watch stargate?

Re:Too little too late? (1)

sysusr (971503) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474172)

All the time. They use subspace communication.

Re:Too little too late? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474314)

Unless aliens have some sort of incredible way of communicating through subspace, or wormholes, or some other fantastic medium through which they can shorten or eliminate the pesky problem of distance,



Add to the list:

... or they simply live much longer than humans and are way more patient ...


Re:Too little too late? (1)

sysusr (971503) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474388)

Add to the list:

... or they simply live much longer than humans and are way more patient ...

Even if that were the case, consider how a distance of 200 light years (a rather short distance in cosmic terms) compares to the age of the universe. You won't get many conversations in over 15 billion years.

And if they're intelligent enough to have the ability and desire to communicate through space, they're not going to be stupid enough to settle for a half assed, inefficient method of communication.

Re:Too little too late? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474624)

Even if that were the case, consider how a distance of 200 light years (a rather short distance in cosmic terms) compares to the age of the universe. You won't get many conversations in over 15 billion years.

I still get a pretty big number after the division. But that's not really the point. Interstellar communications wouldn't be "conversations", they would carry essential, long term information (important scientific breakthroughs, targets of new colonization ships (to avoid redundancy/fights/etc), data about how the colony is doing ("Hey, we're not dead yet."), etc).

His Master's Voice (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474108)

This is exactly what Stanislas Lem wrote in "His Master's Voice" in 1968 :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_Master's_Voice_(novel)

So, to find any aliens on Earth... (5, Funny)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474116)

all we would have to do is see who's buying a lot of dry cleaning fluid?

But... (1)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474150)

Is this practical? Is it possible to detect neutrinos with a small device?? I mean, Neutrinos detectors use to be huge.

Well, of course (1)

antikaos (1166401) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474154)

Did anyone really think photons would have been best? Maybe easier but still, seems like a no-brainer to me. In other news: New study suggests telephones are a better means of communication than smoke signals.

Quantum Communication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474174)

They might use Einstein's "spooky action at a distance" which will be instantaneous and impossible for us to detect assuming our current understanding of how the Universe works is correct. LHC might change all that.

Vodafone takes notice (1)

LSD-OBS (183415) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474176)

Cool, can't wait to have my pan-galactic neutrino-based mobile phone! Complete with 470 tons of tetrachloroethylene and a few thousand photoreceptors. Fits in your pocket!

Speak and spell (1)

JoshEanes (1172285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474186)

" And the astronomers reckon that the next generation of neutrino detectors should be sensitive enough to pick up ET's chatter."

Which can be accomplished by a large headed alien with a speak and spell, a coat hanger, and some blankets.

The God Particle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474192)

There is a book called "The God Particle" written by the dude who got the Nobel Prize for discovering the neutrino. Very interesting and a recommended read.

How likely are you to be hit by a beam? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474218)

Neutrinos lack of interaction with normal matter is a problem for potential eavesdroppers, not only because it makes it harder to detect them, but any usable communication beam will have to be collimated (somehow) to a very narrow beam... to the point where even after tens of thousands of light years it still wouldn't have spread very far. This makes it unlikely that we'd be intersecting any beams at all.

Faster than light? No? Useless? (3, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474228)

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but communication with neutrinos would still NOT be faster than light, right? I'm sorry, but I don't think any galaxy-spanning civilization can possibly exist without FTL communication. Like, thousands of times FTL, because of the massive distances involved. According to one site [ucar.edu] the Milky Way is about 90,000 light years across. Which means it would take, let's see, 90,000 years (hard math, there) for a signal to cross the galaxy. Not exactly useful for galactic communications.

This is also why I think projects like SETI@Home are ridiculously stupid. Even if other intelligent life did evolve elsewhere in the galaxy or universe, unless they evolved sooner than us (by at least the amount of time it would take for signals to travel from their world(s) ) their signals likely wouldn't have reached us yet. It's also possible that they evolved, developed RF technology, then either died out (and so stopped sending coherent signals), or moved on to FTL comms that we currently have no idea how to receive, or even the basic principles that they are based on (since we currently have no notion of any possible way for information to travel faster than the speed of light).

Since we've only been receiving RF signals for about 100 years, the window of opportunity for other civilizations' RF signals to reach us during the period in which we were 'listening' is ridiculously small.

Neutrino comms might be good for communicating inside of our Solar system, but unless they travel FTL, it would take a message a little over 4 years just to reach the next closest star to our Solar system. That seems pretty useless to me.

Re:Faster than light? No? Useless? (1)

Gigadafud (413848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474422)

I could not agree more. With the vast distances involved, with no 'real-time' communication being possibly, each new world someone colonizes is essentially a node almost unconnected from the rest.

Talk about the potential for new expansions in evolution in the human tree.

Easy ! (1)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474432)

They could reverse the polarity of the neutrino emitter by modulating the frequency harmonics across the sub-space spectrum to acheive FTL comm. At least, that how Geordi La Forge did it.

Re:Faster than light? No? Useless? (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474530)

If you define a galaxy-wide civilization in a way similar to how earth based civilizations have worked, then what you say makes sense. But I think that's a pretty narrow definition, and not a particularly useful one.

Even with a lag time of possibly hundreds of years, that doesn't mean that there's no useful communication to be made. Twitter probably wouldn't be all that popular with that sort of latency, but I'd imagine there'd still be plenty to talk about (scientific discoveries (maybe a new planet to colonize), news of a horrible catastrophe that's made a particular planet suddenly uninhabitable, or maybe just regular status updates just for historical record keeping.

Without FTL communication, it's likely that any sort of galaxy-spanning civilization would end up more like a bunch of different civilizations just with a common origin. They might just keep in touch with each other out of tradition or some vague sense of connection. Some colonies might very well stop those communications for various reasons. But it doesn't seem likely that they'd just give up on communicating wholesale just because it takes a long time.

The future certainly sounds much more interesting if some sort of FTL travel or at least communication ends up being possible. But it's not required.

Ahh, but those would be seperate civilizations (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474804)

It seems to me that, at a point where groups of people are essentially completely isolated from each other, with the only communications being art, entertainment, and educational literature, they are effectively seperate civilizations. Sure, it might be possible for mankind to spread to other planets and establish completely new, isolated civilizations, but before your transmissions reached them, there is a good chance that they would no longer even understand your language.

A new tower of babel, once again caused by reaching for the heavens.

Re:Faster than light? No? Useless? (1)

auric_dude (610172) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474534)

If my memory-alpha servers me correctly then tachyons may just have the edge over neutrinos for ftl communication.

Re:Faster than light? No? Useless? (1)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474738)

SETI is based on the assumption that an advanced civilization wants to make contact with other species and will attempt to setup some sort of beacon that is easy to detect.

Re:Faster than light? No? Useless? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474862)

Well, yeah, possibly. I suppose we must listen, on the small chance that that does happen. I guess my frustration is people, even people like Stephen Hawking, assuming it's likely SETI should find something.

Again, even if another intelligent species created such a beacon, unless it just so happened that the 'lifetime' of transmission of that beacon was during a pretty narrow window of opportunity, it's likely that the signal either passed us long ago, and is no longer detectable, or we will have to listen for a very, *very* long time before we find anything.

Re:Faster than light? No? Useless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474866)

If you have a life span of a few million years 90.000 years isn't that much.

Re:Faster than light? No? Useless? (1)

street struttin' (1249972) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474870)

Why would they even NEED to communicate all that way. It's not like any events that happen 100,000ly away from each other would have any affect whatsoever on each other. I mean, why would ET care if Barak or Hillary wins? By the time anything they did could affect him, he'd have been dead for 99,900 years.

Gravity sucks (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474230)

... but wont be a mini black hole a better instant communication device?

Ok, ok, wasnt my idea, maybe Asimov got mad in advance when predicted what hollywood will do in the future to the bicentennial man.

Holdon....we are getting something | spkrs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474236)

".....static.......UNCE UNCE UNCE.....siren......UNCE UNCE UNCE......whistle......UNCE UNCE UNCE"

Re:Holdon....we are getting something | spkrs (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474676)

4 8 15 16 23 42

A mean for cross Earth communication? (1)

La Gris (531858) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474238)

I had this precise idea months ago. Would it be practical to use neutrinos to establish communication links across Earth?

Even if detectors are huge, even if we have yet to invent modulable neutrino emitters. This would provide direct point to point links with shorter distance and lattency than relying on cables across surface or satellite.

What about quantum entanglement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474252)

What about quantum entanglement? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement [wikipedia.org]

Re:What about quantum entanglement? (1)

hansraj (458504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474390)

Yeah, what about it?

Probably you mean to ask if Quantum entanglement can be used for FTL communication. If so, the answer is NO [wikipedia.org] .

Informally, to be able to communicate via Quantum entanglement, you need to transport the entangled particles (probably done before the actual communication, so irrelevant) and then upon aligning the state of one entangled particle one needs to send some classical information to the destination. Without this classical part the receiver can not "decode" the state of his/her particle correctly. So you need a way to communicate the classical information FTL which is not allowed if GR is correct.

Nuttier than fruitcakes (1, Insightful)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474272)

Big problem, you can't aim, focus, or do anything other with neutrinos than create them.

That means that 99.9999% of all neutrinos ever created are still zoooming around the universe.

And there are a billion billion stars all making 10^37 neutrinos every second.

That's what's called "background noise".

Now there are several noise-reduction strategies, like narrow filters (which don't work well when the endpoints are moving). But still, it's hard to make a signal make a dent with all that background noise.

Re:Nuttier than fruitcakes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474460)

My thoughts exactly: apparent "low noise" of the channel is probably due to terrible sensitivity of receivers currently at our disposal. Like radio receiver being silent ... without antenna!

Re:Nuttier than fruitcakes (2, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474526)

Big problem, you can't aim, focus, or do anything other with neutrinos than create them.

...Yet. Since they do interact with ordinary matter to some degree, we can reasonably expect to some day have the ability to make/use/detect them in a controlled and predictable manner.



Now there are several noise-reduction strategies, like narrow filters (which don't work well when the endpoints are moving). But still, it's hard to make a signal make a dent with all that background noise.

Now apply the same reasoning to photons... Have you any idea just how many of them come at us from every direction, constantly, even during the night in a "dark" room? Fortunately, we can select them based on direction, frequency, amplitude, phase, polarization, and probably a few more properties that I can't think of at the moment. Why would we expect neutrinos to have any fewer selectable properties on which to filter? In fact, they would likely have more aspects to select for, as they periodically convert between several different flavors.

They got grant money for this?! (1)

loimprevisto (910035) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474284)

The 6 page paper (http://arxiv.org/abs/0805.2429 [arxiv.org] ) was pure speculation. Entertaining, and with some physics/math that I didn't understand all of, but overall just some sci-fi ideas that they ran the numbers on.

Then the neutrinos from such a source have energies of exactly mZ/2, about 45 GeV, and are easily identifiable as due to Zo decay: there are no natural sources of s of this precise energy. In this case the neutrinos are emitted in a spherically symmetrical manner, and because of that the power requirements for galactic distances, reach the scale of total solar power (as estimated there) to obtain a significant counting rate. Of course one might argue that this is not "our" problem, but one to be solved by the postulated advanced civilization with technology we cannot yet imagine. But resorting to harnessing (Dyson) stars certainly moves the potentiality of such communication to the distant future, if indeed such is ever practical for a civilization.
That's an example of their work, and they have several sections like that. Also, they couldn't seem to decide whether they wanted to discuss ETIs communicating with themselves/each other or with targetted communications at low-tech civilizations.

  If they wrapped a plot around this it would work just as well as a short sci-fi story as a paper.

TFA is wrong (5, Funny)

soulsteal (104635) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474292)

Everyone knows ET used trees, the wind, some string, a coat hangar, a record player and a speak'n'spell to communicate.

Duh.

Noise free? (2, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474312)

That part of TFS left me scratching my head. Since nothing short of a black hole or neutron star will actually stop neutrinos, and since every active star in the galaxy gives off neutrino radiation as a byproduct of stellar fusion, shouldn't the noise level be relatively high?

Apart from that, how exactly is this hypothetical neutrino comm generating its signal? Neutrinos are the byproduct of nuclear reactions, and you'd need to generate an awful lot for the signal to be heard over interstellar distances. Are they rapidly switching a fusion source on and off? Perhaps using matter and anti-matter instead? Either way, it'd be somewhat akin to blasting off hydrogen bombs in Morse code.

Final catch, if we don't know how a hypothetical neutrino comm would work, why would we assume it's feasible? I mean, if we're just going to handwave around the technical hurdles in generating a long range signal using exotic particles, why not go the extra mile and assume they're using gravity waves? Same benefits, equally difficult engineering problems.

Not that looking for neutrino signals isn't worth it - it costs us next to nothing to try it, and who knows, they might be right. However, there is a world of difference between "we should look for X in case it's used to contact us" and "they will contact us with X" which is the way the article is pitching it.

Re:Noise free? (1)

salec (791463) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474592)

Are they rapidly switching a fusion source on and off?
At least that part has been a non-problem [wikipedia.org] .

Why Not Tachyons? (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474372)

With tachyons [wikipedia.org] , the message can arrive before it's sent! All we need to do is to figure out how to keep them from condensing....

Speed of Light != Useless (5, Insightful)

LakeSolon (699033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474408)

There are alot of posts saying "Well it's still not faster than the speed of light, so it's still useless for a pan-galactic civilization".

If your two options are: A) communicate at the speed of light, or B) don't communicate...

I think it's reasonable to assume you'd find some communication, no matter how slow, useful.

We've gotten so accustomed to (what is to our senses) instantaneous communication it's easy to forget that empires existed across much of our globe when the fastest method of communication was a sailing ship.

We've seen our 'world' shrink a great deal in the past few hundred years. Is it so hard to imagine it growing again?

Re:Speed of Light != Useless (4, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474622)

Back in the Roman Empire days, they could communicate with Rome using towers built on each others horizon. They then used light codes (similar to morse) to then relay information back to the Caesar.

They had it down to 18 hrs from Great Britan... I think that's damned impressive.

Ship = few months, not 90000 years (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474684)

It's true that civilizations can exist when it takes weeks or months, maybe even a small number of years for the message to reach it's destination. On the scale of thousands of years, what could you *possibly* say that would be useful or relevant to anyone living at that time? How would you even know if anyone would still be alive at the signals destination?

I mean, think about it, if the signal takes 30,000 years to reach it's destination, not only would everyone who was alive when you sent the signal be dead, but roughly 1000 generations would have lived and died. Governments, societies, religions would likely have all come and gone, risen and fallen. New species might possibly have evolved (though, I suppose, 30,000 years is fairly small in the timescale of evolutionary theory).

The one and only thing I can think of that might be of some sort of use for speed-of-light communications to other points in the galaxy is simply for publishing significant works of art, literature, etc, that other planets might find amusing or educational in thousands of years' time. By the time they reach it, it will be History, and likely not applicable to 'modern' Earth anyhow.

Re:Speed of Light != Useless (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474780)

I like your point. Imagine if you will that some other advanced civilization is exploring the galaxy. If they're clever, which we'll assume, they might do it by sending out robotic explorers that automatically move to new regions of space, replicate themselves, and move on, but can be directed via communication from the homeland. These robots will take millions of years to go anywhere very far from home, so waiting for light speed communications isn't a big delay in the scheme of things. I think that one of the biggest factors influencing the light speed communications debate is the short lifetime of humans in comparison to the time required to communicate with other star systems. Why shouldn't alien life live ten times as long, or a thousand times as long? If we lived a hundred thousand years, I don't think we'd be so impatient about interstellar travel.

Abandon hope (1)

EtaCarinae (1149927) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474428)

FTA:
Given such "modest" power levels, one may imagine transmitting at rates higher than hypothesized for the resonant Z o method, perhaps one per second, as is easily foreseeable with present technology (a gigawatt of power, less than many present nuclear power stations).

Multiply this by the number of directions ETI would like to send in...

Other suggested transmitting schemes draws energy comparable to star output powers. It would have been nice if they'd actually come up with some physics advocating the feasibility of controlled neutrino transmission. Their mentioning of the better efficiency of shipping away artifacts to hang around in solar systems was interesting however.

Or.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23474448)

Maybe they rely on something even better than Neutrinos that we (as a civilization that has NOT begun colonizing the galaxy) haven't discovered yet?

Neutrinos are HARD to detect (2, Insightful)

AceJohnny (253840) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474452)

Oh yeah sure, let's use neutrinos, who's most remarkable physical property is that they barely interact with matter, no problem!

Alien tech indeed...

Re:Neutrinos are HARD to detect (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474620)

It's still can be done, as long as you send plenty of neutrino's (ie. trillions) statistically we should detect a few of those. Now to detect enough neutrino's to see a modulated signal is another thing.

Invention by Dr Zee ? I'm not surprised... (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474474)

Doctor Zee is a child prodigy of about 12 years of age, and appears to be the most-intelligent being in the Fleet. His origin isn't explained, but he's soon introduced as a scientific "whiz" who has great influence over Commander Adama and the Council of Twelve. However, not everyone is comfortable with the young Zee having so much influence; Xavier expressed this in the pilot.

Zee convinces Adama not to attempt direct contact with humanity, because the nations of Earth aren't unified and are ill-equipped to resist the Cylons, who have been clandestinely following the Fleet. He's also unsure whether Earth's communication systems are Neutrino or Photon-based.

Zee is responsible for creating most (if not all) of the gizmos used throughout the series - for example, the invisibility screen, as well as the method of time travel first employed by the renegade Xavier. Zee is an expert on any topic about which he's consulted, including sociology, history and agriculture. Just after the pilot episode, he completes construction of an antigravity craft that resembles a UFO ("The Super Scouts, Parts 1 and 2").

Why communicate at all? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474572)

Given the distance to cover and the speed of light, lag times will be high. The smallest duration would be on the order of 10 years, with most 100 to 1000 years. This would require very long lifetimes for any chatter to make sense. What would really be communicated? Only those items of utmost importance. I figure it would be data on other civilizations, their development and threat assessment. Or, habitable worlds for an expanding population. Anything else would be considered hum-drum, or capable of being discerned from great distances. Eventually your remote populations would grow evolutionarily distant, and you'd be communicating with an alien race from your own planet. Perhaps then the communication is to keep the two races friendly, and to maintain a common form of communication, if the ever do come together again.

It is only when FTL comes into play that things get interesting (as any sci-fi viewer would know)

Re:Why communicate at all? (2, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474698)

Not really..

If we can learn the nanotech and computing required, we should be able to upload ourselves in durable substrate (diamondoid CPUs). Once we have control what was once only biological control, we could change the way we perceive time to say a second per year (or more or less for the required job).

It could also be said that if we lived between compute platforms in each solar system, our global consciousness could be diffuse and communicate with the idea that light speed is the barrier which we will never cross.

I've been thinking about manipulating (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474646)

something at a great distance with only an energy beam, if we find a fairly regular atomic shape (like a diamond but more diverse) can we create cohesive distortions in it or use it to cohesively distort a particle stream?

Might be kinda cool if we could build something using naturally occuring distortions over long distances...

If we could make a bacteria that would be so badass.

Phoning ET would be a lot fun if we could destroy his world with a virus.

I can see it now (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474670)

Our first contact with interstellar life will be an adolescent alien playing their version of Counter Strike Source and screaming "STFU you noob, I DON'T HACK"
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