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Instant Messaging With Neutrinos

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the truly-instant-messaging dept.

Science 262

An anonymous reader writes "A group of scientists has for the first time sent a message using a beam of neutrinos – nearly massless particles that travel at almost the speed of light. The message was sent through 240 meters of stone and said simply, 'Neutrino.' From the article: 'Many have theorized about the possible uses of neutrinos in communication because of one particularly valuable property: they can penetrate almost anything they encounter. If this technology could be applied to submarines, for instance, then they could conceivably communicate over long distances through water, which is difficult, if not impossible, with present technology. And if we wanted to communicate with something in outer space that was on the far side of a moon or a planet, our message could travel straight through without impediment.'"

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Link gives 404? (3, Interesting)

base2_celtic (56328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361161)

Pretty early on in the piece to be slashdotted. Pulled for some reason?

Re:Link gives 404? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361193)

Obviously the neutrinos, with which the http reply was sent, passed straight though your computer.

Re:Link gives 404? (1)

base2_celtic (56328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361373)

Paid in full.

Will Neutrinos collide with other Neutrinos? (4, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361395)

I am not that good in Physics, so I'll post my questions here:

I heard that photons don't collide with other photons, that's why two beams can cross path and still behave as though they were travelling without any hindrance

Will Neutrinos behave like photons? Or will Neutrinos collide with other Neutrinos?

Re:Will Neutrinos collide with other Neutrinos? (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361431)

Well, at least this will be new tool to get messages through the thick skulls of certain managerial PHB's.

Re:Will Neutrinos collide with other Neutrinos? (5, Informative)

chefmayhem (1357519) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361697)

Neutrinos can collide with other neutrinos. Thing is, it's just really rare. The probability for a neutrino to interact with normal matter is small. The probability for it to interact with other neutrinos is smaller still. But it is non-zero. The only time when you're likely to be able to measure this kind of interaction is during a supernova, when the dying star makes an incredible number of neutrinos all at once.

Re:Will Neutrinos collide with other Neutrinos? (5, Informative)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361927)

Don't know about neutrino generation but the receiving end has its own limitations [wikipedia.org]
the article talks about submarines and satellites, with the mass of current high efficiency neutrino detectors I'd say more like underwater city and moon colony. Also everything near or outside the atmosphere would have to deal with a hell of a lot noise...
Still, underground comms. Why not? It sure can become much more efficient than the idiotic cables that build the Internet today. Also judging from technology's progress it should be only about a couple of decades before you can walk around with a pocketable, battery powered neutrino I/O device. then were talking.

Re:Link gives 404? (4, Funny)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361399)

No. Its just that the article summary arrived before the article.

boom boom

Re:Link gives 404? (4, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361669)

My bad, the GPS cable was loose.

Re:Link gives 404? (1)

DarthJohn (1160097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361655)

yea, 'cause everybody knows nintendos pass through everything.

Re:Link gives 404? (4, Funny)

Ruie (30480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361201)

404 just means "cross section too low, send more packets"

Re:Link gives 404? (1)

NicknameAvailable (2581237) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361233)

Pretty early on in the piece to be slashdotted. Pulled for some reason?

Obviously the neutrinos went back in time while conveying their message, thereby providing a result without having conducted the experiment and the scientists jumped the gun on this. Realizing their error in not actually conducting the experiment the publication is on, they must have pulled the paper. I'd check back in a few days.

Dead link (5, Informative)

gadzook33 (740455) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361165)

The link doesn't seem to work but the article is here [arstechnica.com]

Re:Dead link (5, Informative)

base2_celtic (56328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361183)

Also here [sciencedaily.com] .

Re:Dead link (5, Informative)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361389)

The Science Daily article is much better; I wouldn't even bother with the ars technica one since it's short and misleading. For instance,

Neutrinos are nearly massless and travel very close to the speed of light, so they can pass through substances, including entire planets, with little disruption.

That neutrinos are nearly massless and travel close to the speed of light is not the reason they interact so little with other matter. For instance, photons are often stopped by pieces of paper yet they're massless and travel at the speed of light. Neutrinos (for whatever reason) are only affected by two of the four fundamental forces, the weak nuclear and gravity, leaving out the electromagnetic and strong nuclear forces. This limits their interactions significantly.

eventually, they could provide a stable alternative to the electromagnetic waves we use now.

The implication of replacing most current hardware with neutrino-based communication is almost certainly ludicrously optimistic. Neutrinos don't interact with other matter very often (kind of the point), so you have to send huge numbers of them to get your message heard. They're also hard to generate. The scientists actually say,

Neutrino communication systems would be much more complicated than today's systems, but may have important strategic uses.

implying that a few highly specialized communications systems might conceivably use neutrinos one day. Maybe in the future vastly improved neutrino detectors and generators could be constructed, but the sun generates large numbers of neutrinos constantly, so you'd at least have to get some filtering mechanisms or similar in place.

Re:Dead link (3, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361615)

I doubt we'd use them in general communication applications anyway, for the simple reason that what we have right now isn't broken, and thus doesn't need to be fixed. Hell, if we're still using telephone wires in 2012, good money is on there still being cell towers in 2112.

They mention submarine communications, and that upon reflection makes absolutely perfect sense to me. Subs are hard to reach with radio (baring ELF radio, which is a pain in the ass). Likewise, if we ever found it necessary to communicate with man made objects deep beneath the earth, neutrino communicators would make sense.

Space based communication is also mentioned, and that struck me as a little more suspect. Vacuum is the one environment where you can use practically anything to talk, and line of sight is rarely an issue when the objects in the way are tiny compared to the distances involved. How often do astronomical bodies get in the way, and wouldn't it be simpler to use a relay for the rare occasions when they do?

Re:Dead link (4, Insightful)

Raenex (947668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361683)

I doubt we'd use them in general communication applications anyway, for the simple reason that what we have right now isn't broken, and thus doesn't need to be fixed.

If it was actually feasible, it would be very useful for intercontinental telecommunication. Current methods are both expensive and have high latencies (either satellite or laying fiber across ocean floors).

Re:Dead link (5, Informative)

TuringCheck (1989202) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361647)

Neutrinos are also generated in vast numbers by the fission reactors of the submarines that would most likely benefit from this communitation method.

Somehow I don't believe sending Morse code by rapidly turning on and off the reactor is a feasable way of communication ;-)

Neutrino Broadband? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361181)

Once we get cheap narrow-beam neutrino transmitters and receivers that can do gigabit/terabit speeds, I'll buy several thousand and set up true point-to-point peer-to-peer networking with my neutrino-enabled peers all over the planet! Fiber optics required? Hah! Just point and shoot!

Re:Neutrino Broadband? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361205)

With fantastical speeds of 30 or 40bps. I imagine you have to have one helluva lot of neutrinos being pushed out for any detector to even catch a small fraction of them.

Re:Neutrino Broadband? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361383)

I imagine you have to have one helluva lot of neutrinos being pushed out for any detector to even catch a small fraction of them.

I actually went to RTFA (and some of the links provided by others) but this is the exact problem I was thinking of. The reason neutrinos penetrate stuff so well is they barely interact with anything. The fact they barely interact with anything makes them hard to detect. Even places like the LHC need to generate assloads of neutrinos to see them.
Barring some radical new neutrino detector technology, I don't see this taking off.

Re:Neutrino Broadband? (1)

voidphoenix (710468) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361845)

is they barely interact with anything. The fact they barely interact with anything makes them hard to detect. Even places like the LHC need to generate assloads of neutrinos to see them.

I'm not familiar with that unit of measurement. Is it specific to neutrino quantities or can it be used for other things? Oh, and could you give a conversion to something more familiar, like Libraries of Congress or Football Fields? :D

Re:Neutrino Broadband? (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361873)

A Library of Congress is about an assload of assloads.

Did that help?

Re:Neutrino Broadband? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361835)

With fantastical speeds of 30 or 40bps. I imagine you have to have one helluva lot of neutrinos being pushed out for any detector to even catch a small fraction of them.

And for some reason it will never ever be possible to send mora than one neutrino at a time?
Last time I checked it required a helluva lot of electrons to make a logic gate switch.

Good luch trying to find any kind of communication that doesn't require insane amounts of particles for every bit.

Re:Neutrino Broadband? (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361869)

Who cares how long it takes to download a movie, if it's free?

Re:Neutrino Broadband? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361223)

If you beamed it directly at them, you'd have to know where they are. If you're at home or work that's not so much of a problem, but what about smartphones? How are you going to know where to point your neutrino ray?

Re:Neutrino Broadband? (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361261)

If you beamed it directly at them, you'd have to know where they are. If you're at home or work that's not so much of a problem, but what about smartphones? How are you going to know where to point your neutrino ray?

Considering the size of neutrino detectors, just point the ray at the store shelves. People wouldn't be able to buy your half-ton phones if they wanted to.

Re:Neutrino Broadband? (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361875)

"Just don't hold it that way"

404 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361189)

Thanks in advance

Working link (3, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361191)

Since the link in the summary gives a 404, here's what appears to be the same article direct from the school's website:

http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=4022 [rochester.edu]

The title of the article is a verbatim match to the URL in the summary, so I'm pretty sure it's the same article.

Submarines? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361195)

I, for one, think that anything with the potential for better internet access X feet below the water is an excellent idea.

Re:Submarines? (5, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361241)

I, for one, think that anything with the potential for better internet access X feet below the water is an excellent idea.

Damn straight.

There is no reason why there should be any place on Earth that a man can't download some Internet porn. In the Mariana Trench? porn. Bermuda Triangle? porn. 1 mile underground trapped in a mine? still porn. Far side of the Moon? more porn.

Of course there will always be some other benefits, like search and rescue beacons that can cut through any interference and touchy feely crap like that.

Re:Submarines? (4, Funny)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361381)

In the Mariana Trench? porn. Bermuda Triangle? porn.

Didn't Mariana Trench and Bermuda Triangle star together in "Deep Diving III: Plumbing the Depths"?

Re:Submarines? (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361555)

I, for one, think that anything with the potential for better internet access X feet below the water is an excellent idea.

How do you know the location of the sub? Or do you propose the emitter broadcasting in 4 x PI solid angle (what stops others doing the same)?

Re:Submarines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361621)

If the sub knows your location it can send you a message first containing the position.

SETI with Neutrinos? (5, Interesting)

norcom (635362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361215)

Should SETI switch to monitoring neutrino transmissions now?

Re:SETI with Neutrinos? (5, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361229)

I'm not sure, but it does illustrate the challenges SETI faces.

Re:SETI with Neutrinos? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361291)

Forget SETI, how about CETI with neutrinos? Especially the superluminal ones ...

Re:SETI with Neutrinos? (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361829)

Before you can CETI, you must first SETI and FETI.

Re:SETI with Neutrinos? (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361897)

It would be kind of interesting if all of a sudden we'd be able to connect to the intergalactic network and see TV shows from all over the galaxy. Going from "are we alone?" to "oh my, there's trillions of them!" in one quick news flash. Of course it wouldn't take long for the RIAG to show up and sue us all...

Oh, almost forgot, obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com]

Yeah, OK , so ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361219)

If you can do that, well, that just means you can now detect a sub's nuclear reactor super-easy. Don't they give off neutrinos?

wow... (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361235)

I don't know how many (old) articles I've read on neutrinnos. They all said "we'll likely never be able to detect them", etc etc. If we can detect them well enough to communicate via them, ever, that'd be slick.

SETI (2)

louzer (1006689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361249)

SETI should look for Alien messages in Neutrinos. Not radio waves.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361393)

Agreed. I presume that all aliens think that neutrinos are so cool that they are all sending the message "Neutrino" often and in every direction.

I'd also expect to see the occasional message "Photons suck".

Better than a cellphone in a few years... (1)

Y.A.A.P. (1252040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361253)

No more weak signals because something is blocking line of transmission to the nearest tower.

All I have to do to send the message from my handset is be walking around with an unlicensed particle accelerator strapped to my back. The receiver component, OTOH will need to be carried by my personal valet, The Incredible Hulk.

Re:Better than a cellphone in a few years... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361579)

No more weak signals because something is blocking line of transmission to the nearest tower.

No... but I can jam your connection from the other side of the world.
Also, wire-(err...neutrino-beam)-tapping will require no warrant, your phone will be shouting publicly already.

SETI with neutrinos (1)

basecastula (2556196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361263)

think about it. we are lookin for radio waves(flame on)/ digital signals from the greater beyond, when something else could be the form of which we are look for currently. what if we had the money to look for other types of signals that can be sent out over longer distances of space. forgive me im pretty hammered off some local black diamond rampage.

Headline: "iPhone 44 to use neutrino-based texting (2)

asmiller1950 (625539) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361285)

Think of the possibilities!

That's so 186,000 seconds ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361295)

How exactly are we to respond to messages that happen faster than brain conduction rate? Basing communications on Neutrinos opens a world of problems. Adding in quantum issues and we find ourselves trying to respond to messages we haven't even sent.

Can you hear me now? (1)

DaneM (810927) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361303)

Can I get a cell phone that works indoors, now?

Better than instant messaging! (1)

erice (13380) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361305)

It's like the old Steven Wright joke about putting instant coffee in a microwave oven.

"I sent an instant message with faster than light neutrinos......"

Timescape? (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361307)

Benford had it first. One of my favorite authors.

Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361315)

I wonder exactly what you need to do to stop the signal? I am sure if this became mainstream (or whatever stream it could become) that there will be businesses start-up trying to prevent those signals.

I dub it, the Signal Jammer.

Re:Security (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361847)

"You can't stop the signal, Mal."

High frequency trading (4, Interesting)

itamblyn (867415) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361333)

The first person who figures out how to do this reliably will make a huge profit. There are already undersea cables which exist for the sole purpose of reducing latency between NY and UK stock exchanges. Neutrinos going _through_ the earth (arriving at the Nikkei for instance) would have a significantly shorter time of flight and would give traders a massive advantage.

Re:High frequency trading (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361377)

Well, sure. Trouble is the neutrino cross-section is very small, so although your neutrino wavefront would arrive in Japan milliseconds earlier, you almost certainly won't detect them. (Current long baseline neutrino experiments send beams over hundreds of km, and see a few events per day. US to Japan is a factor of 10 further, so 1/100 in intensity. Do the math...)

Re:High frequency trading (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361441)

There are already undersea cables which exist for the sole purpose of reducing latency between NY and UK stock exchanges.

What a waste of effort and resources.

Re:High frequency trading (1)

Megaflux (1803738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361449)

I agree with it, but it will be still quite a long time until this could work. But the positive aspect of this is that money is pushed into science...

Submarines eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361345)

Someday there will be an article on a new tech where the first possible application that they think of isn't military.

So... thick skulls CAN be penetrated? (1)

gaiageek (1070870) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361349)

Humankind, there may be hope for you yet.

Re:So... thick skulls CAN be penetrated? (3, Funny)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361369)

Unfortunately, it would be in one ear and out the other.

Not true (5, Funny)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361371)

they sent word "neutrino" but on the other end, they recieved message "Thanks fucking god you _finally_ figured this out. Lets just say that Milky Way contains four intelligent civilizations, and yours is not among three smartest".

Re:Not true (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361409)

Being last in a race is often better than not finishing at all. Someone's going to be in fourth, might as well make it to the list at least.

Re:Not true (2)

Jimbookis (517778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361525)

Yeah, just ask Stephen Bradbury.

Re:Not true (2)

Igloodude (710950) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361757)

and then a followup message, "...and just for the record, you're talking to the fourth smartest."

Now for really fast communications....qbits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361379)

Quantumly entangled bits (say electrons) - used for network interfaces (one on either side of the communications stack) and you have Andrew Wiggins favorite communications mechanism, the Ansible.
Now if only we could read the state of the electrons without modifying their quantum state, we'd actually be able to do this today.

Imagine the angst the NSA/CIA/FBI would feel when they couldn't tap into the secure, wireless, unlimited speed (potentially - need more, parallel a few more qbits), zero latency (at least for the transmission) communcations.

Space: 1999 (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361413)

Neutrino transmission was the only way earth was able to contact the station.

Of course, I seem to recall it only worked for a certain short window of time - maybe the station got occluded by Ringworld after that?

Receiver works how? (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361419)

If neutrinos can pass through thousands of miles of solid rock without apparently being affected by it, how are you going to make a receiving antenna of any practical size?

Re:Receiver works how? (4, Informative)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361451)

If neutrinos can pass through thousands of miles of solid rock without apparently being affected by it, how are you going to make a receiving antenna of any practical size?

Well we know from the FTL neutrino saga that it can be done. The idea I believe is that if the beam can be focused enough you make up for it by sending a massive quantity of neutrinos and hoping that just one of them hits... A bit like a telescope taking a picture with exposure times on order of minutes to hours.

For the neutrino sources on earth I forget exactly how it works but the signature you get in the detector registers a double hit that allows you to separate it from noise of other sources so these things don't need to be burried under thousands of feet of rock either as they are normally.

Re:Receiver works how? (2)

Awol411 (799294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361569)

If neutrinos can pass through thousands of miles of solid rock without apparently being affected by it, how are you going to make a receiving antenna of any practical size?

Well we know from the FTL neutrino saga that it can be done. The idea I believe is that if the beam can be focused enough you make up for it by sending a massive quantity of neutrinos and hoping that just one of them hits... A bit like a telescope taking a picture with exposure times on order of minutes to hours.

For the neutrino sources on earth I forget exactly how it works but the signature you get in the detector registers a double hit that allows you to separate it from noise of other sources so these things don't need to be burried under thousands of feet of rock either as they are normally.

There are a couple of ways you can detect neutrinos. The easiest to imagine is chenerkov radiation. To understand this, acknowledge that the speed of light slows down in different mediums - water for example. A neutrino traveling through water moves faster than light through the water (but still slower than c). The neutrino creates - in essence - a shock wave behind it as it travels through water. As the light hits the shock wave, it is defracted and emits light of different colors - other various wavelengths. By looking at the amount of diffraction, you can indirectly measure the amount of shock waves --> amount of neutrinos.

Re:Receiver works how? (2)

locofungus (179280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361653)

Cherenkov radiation is only given off by charged particles. But a quick google gives http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Askaryan_effect [wikipedia.org] which is what I think you're referring to.

Tim.

Re:Receiver works how? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361877)

No, he means Cherenkov radiation of the resulting particles after neutrino interactino in the detecting medium. See my AC reply (non-editable, with spelling errors :-) ) to his post.

The thought of getting an account after many many lurking years have crossed my mind.

Re:Receiver works how? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361863)

It is not the neutrinos in themselves that give of Cherenkov radiation: as pointed out, Cherenkov radiation occurs when _electrically charged_ particles moves faster than light in a medium. Instead, in the large neutrinodetectors, it is the electrically charged by-products of the neutrinos reactions with particles in the detector medium that will get a velocity >c_m and will emit Cherenkov radiation.

If neutrinos by themselves would have given out Cherenkov radiation, they would have been easy-peasy to detect (also, it would imply that they were electrically charged, and thus even more easily detected, and not neutrinos at all :-) ).

bits per hour (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361423)

I imagine if you were clever you could use timeslots to communicate multiple bytes or whole words from a carefully selected dictionary with a single detection event.

Public pairing agreements? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361427)

Stop and think about how our current Internet is cabled. Now, imagine an increase in competition in at the ISP level. Pairing agreements could be created by simply directing your networked neutrino transmitter to an agreed up location. As a consumer, you point your device to an ISP. This of course assuming such technology is cheap, portable, and fast. At the very least, possible at all.

Re:Public pairing agreements? (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361595)

Stop and think about how our current Internet is cabled. Now, imagine an increase in competition in at the ISP level. Pairing agreements could be created by simply directing your networked neutrino transmitter to an agreed up location.

Can't! At most one can hope: transmit along a pre-agreed direction - everyone on this direction will be able to intercept the transmission (no more warrants for wiretapping necessary).

link of actual paper instead of press release (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361433)

http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.2847 [arxiv.org]

The stupid press release left off the most important number which was the communication bit rate: 0.1 bits per second.

Paper abstract: "Beams of neutrinos have been proposed as a vehicle for communications under unusual circumstances, such as direct point-to-point global communication, communication with submarines, secure communications and interstellar communication. We report on the performance of a low-rate communications link established using the NuMI beam line and the MINERvA detector at Fermilab. The link achieved a decoded data rate of 0.1 bits/sec with a bit error rate of 1% over a distance of 1.035 km, including 240 m of earth. "

Re:link of actual paper instead of press release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361501)

That is not important at all at this time. It's a proof of concept, not a marketing campaign.

Some crucial details left out (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361467)

Some crucial details were left out.

The "transmitter" uses the Fermilab accelerator ring to generate neutrinos. 6km of particle accelerator.

The "receiver" is a neutrino detector the size of a large house.

The data rate is so low that it took 20 minutes to transmit one word.

Neutrinos still interact with other particles very infrequently. These researchers have no way around that. They just used a very powerful beam and a huge detector to pick up the very rare events. It's a stunt, not an advance.

Re:Some crucial details left out (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361591)

Some crucial details were left out.

The "transmitter" uses the Fermilab accelerator ring to generate neutrinos. 6km of particle accelerator.

The "receiver" is a neutrino detector the size of a large house.

The data rate is so low that it took 20 minutes to transmit one word.

Neutrinos still interact with other particles very infrequently. These researchers have no way around that. They just used a very powerful beam and a huge detector to pick up the very rare events. It's a stunt, not an advance.

...and how different is that from say a computer in the 1940's... baby steps sir.. baby steps.

Re:Some crucial details left out (1)

chefmayhem (1357519) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361713)

Of course it is a stunt. You're only reading about it because the main goal of the MINERvA experiment, measuring neutrino cross-sections, wouldn't make slashdot. Let's enjoy the impractical communications stuff. Meanwhile, you can be sure the actual physics research continues, unreported in the "popular" channels.

Re:Some crucial details left out (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361923)

Just give the details to Jony Ive and he'll make you one that fits in the palm of your hand, or at least in a manila envelope.

What Stops The Messages Passes Through Receiver? (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361485)

If the messages pass right through everything what's stopping them at the receiver? You'd have to detect them somehow and if your receiver is a massive amount of pure water that's not going to be easy to move about. So how practical is this really? Until the receivers are tiny is this really practical? Until the transmitters are tiny is this really practical? What about line of sight? The bigger the distance the more accurate your three dimensional aiming has to be (assuming neutrinos move in a straight beam like lasers do). So if you're on Mars and someone else is on Earth while you can see where each other are you have an easier time aiming the beams at each other but when you go behind the sun Sol then you're having to rely upon calculated positions, actually you have to do that anyway to compensate for the relativistic effect of the beams traveling from Earth to Mars and back again not to mention the constantly varying orbital positions and velocities of both planets. Likely this is a very difficult problem to solve, although it seems tractable. How narrow is the beam at the receiving end? Can you spit out a wide beam (like the bat signal) rather than a laser pin point? That way you don't need to be as accurate?

Neutrino Man! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361513)

He penetrates everything he encounters! Here, let me squirt a message into you...

Get out of my head! (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361531)

Hmmm, what to read tonight? How about somethiNEUTRINO. Now, what was I saying?

How to catch them (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361533)

The problem with neutrinos is how to catch something that travels through anything including the receiver ?
The mean free path of a neutrino is about 22 light years of lead !!
So to detect neutrinos, you simply catch 1 in 10^10 or so. That's ok unless your message is not the one you caught. A pretty tricky business I say. You wont be getting mobiles working on that principal for a while.

Re:How to catch them (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361939)

No, the principal will most certainly take it away from you.

Is this a safe method? (1)

acidradio (659704) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361593)

Has anybody thought this through? Is this safe? Is this going to be one of those things where we find out it gives everyone cancer in 20 yrs and it is too late to do anything about it?

Re:Is this a safe method? (2)

WombleGoneBad (2591287) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361659)

Yes it is safe. neutrinos pass through you all the time. They pass through you because they do not interact with anything, if they dont interact with anything they cant harm anything inside you. This is why they can 'go though the earth', it is also why the the idea is completely impractical, 99.9% of the neturinos will pass straight through your reciever.

Re:Is this a safe method? (2)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361881)

But because it's mightily difficult to detect them they'll need to send a shiload of them(say, 10^12 times the background radiation?). This increases the neutrino density to unknown heights. Since neutrinos are ionising (if they smash into an atom they can easily knock an proton or electron out of the atom. Now it's an ion, and far more reactive). The current density isn't a problem, but a density of 10^12 of this may pose some troubles.
If the detectors aren't improved by a great factor with detection principles as yet unheard of this will not have my vote.

Re:Is this a safe method? (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361947)

Which is why the transmitter has to send gazillions of them. Which may very well interact with something inside you. Not that I'm particularly afraid, but I just thought I'd point out the flaw in your logic.

Re:Is this a safe method? (1)

mhotchin (791085) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361715)

The reason neutrinos are hard to detect is because they don't react with anything. The sun is emitting billions of neutrinos *per second* *per square cm* (at the earth). You probably hadn't noticed.

Re:Is this a safe method? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39361887)

Actually neutrinos react to the weak force and theoretically the electromagnetic force.

Dan is having a giggle (1)

WombleGoneBad (2591287) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361617)

I suspect Dan just said this to please the suits who probably sign off on his funding, while laughing to himself. Using a "neutrino communication system" sounds a bit like buliding a house out of ice cream. It might be *just about* possible with huge expense and effort, but it is laughably ridiculous compared to the other options that are available.

Yes, but . . . (1)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361641)

Don't the same properties that would make them useful also make them nearly impossible to work with? How do you build an antenna for something that passes through everything? Is my iPhone, 50 years from now, going to be attached to a football field-sized tub of heavy water? Finally, there will be no wrong way to hold it!

How do you receive the signal? (1)

inglorion_on_the_net (1965514) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361675)

So, neutrinos are very good at traveling right through what we think of as solid objects. They also have no electric charge (nor magnetic charge, heh). If you use them to encode a signal, how do you receive the signal? How do the neutrinos interact with your receiver?

That'll cut my WoW ping! (1)

Leemeng (970560) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361801)

If they could run TCP over it, that'll greatly reduce the current speed-of-light and no-line-of-sight limitations.

For antipodal locations, it's about 40,075 km round trip (best case) with current technology versus 12,756 km for a direct route.

Ideal for spammers (2)

21mhz (443080) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361891)

You just cannot block it.

Not really very secure. (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39361899)

The beam could be intercepted at any point, without it being interrupted. It would also have horrific energy consumption per bit transmitted.

For practical communication using lasers to do something similar is much closer: http://iopscience.iop.org/0295-5075/87/1/10010/pdf/0295-5075_87_1_10010.pdf [iop.org]

From teh abstract: "If these experiments nd evidence for hidden photons, laser communications through matter are possible. We show that, using methods from free-space optics, a channel capacity of more than 1 bit per second is possible in the near future, for distances up to the Earth’s diameter"
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