Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Instant Messaging With Neutrinos 262

Posted by samzenpus
from the truly-instant-messaging dept.
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.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Instant Messaging With Neutrinos

Comments Filter:
  • Link gives 404? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by base2_celtic (56328) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:11AM (#39361161) Homepage Journal

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

  • Dead link (Score:5, Informative)

    by gadzook33 (740455) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:13AM (#39361165)
    The link doesn't seem to work but the article is here [arstechnica.com]
    • Re:Dead link (Score:5, Informative)

      by base2_celtic (56328) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:15AM (#39361183) Homepage Journal

      Also here [sciencedaily.com].

    • Re:Dead link (Score:5, Informative)

      by FrootLoops (1817694) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @02:04AM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RsG (809189) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @03:15AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Raenex (947668) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @03:29AM (#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).

        • Yeah but I bet it's a lot easier to jam electromagnetic communications in space. Probably not so for neutrinos.

        • Banking. The high-speed traders will pay a ton of money to shave a few miliseconds off - if they have a neutrino link going between the major exchanges in, say, London and New York then they'll be able to exploit differences between them faster than their competitors still limited by the lag of a cable winding it's way around the curvature of the earth. Wouldn't need much bandwidth, just very low latency.
      • Re:Dead link (Score:5, Informative)

        by TuringCheck (1989202) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @03:22AM (#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 ;-)
      • by Stellian (673475)

        The implication of replacing most current hardware with neutrino-based communication is almost certainly ludicrously optimistic.

        Let me give you an engineering point of view, maybe some since-folks can clear things up in as much as "communicating through planets" is concerned.
        The absorption of a generic beam is exponential to the length of the absorption medium. So assuming you have a one meter thick detector and you want to catch neutrinos transited from the other side of the earth, the attenuation of the beam is alpha^12756000000, while the attenuation inside your detector is only alpha (diameter of the earth = 12756Km).

        Let's assum

        • You should really do some reading about neutrinos before applying standard EM attenuations to them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:15AM (#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!

    • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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.

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

    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      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?

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        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.

  • Working link (Score:4, Interesting)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:16AM (#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? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:17AM (#39361195)
    I, for one, think that anything with the potential for better internet access X feet below the water is an excellent idea.
    • by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:25AM (#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.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      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)?

  • SETI with Neutrinos? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by norcom (635362) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:22AM (#39361215)
    Should SETI switch to monitoring neutrino transmissions now?
  • Yeah, OK , so ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:22AM (#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?
  • 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.

  • by louzer (1006689)
    SETI should look for Alien messages in Neutrinos. Not radio waves.
  • 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.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      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.

      • by Terrasque (796014)

        your phone will be shouting publicly already.

        But it will be protected by industry standard ROT13, so you can not read it.

        • by c0lo (1497653)

          your phone will be shouting publicly already.

          But it will be protected by industry standard ROT13, so you can not read it.

          Right... at this insane baud-rate, can't use anything but ROT13.

  • 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......"

  • Benford had it first. One of my favorite authors.

  • by itamblyn (867415) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:42AM (#39361333) Homepage
    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.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @02:19AM (#39361441) Journal

      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.

      • by shiftless (410350)

        You might say that about the human species as a whole. What is our purpose of existence, if not to compete?

        • by doug141 (863552)

          What is our purpose of existence, if not to compete?

          To work together, get off this rock, so that existence might continue?

  • Not true (Score:5, Funny)

    by should_be_linear (779431) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:53AM (#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".
  • 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?

  • 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?
    • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @02:25AM (#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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      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).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 MIN

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @02:29AM (#39361467) Homepage

    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.

    • by Dutchmaan (442553)

      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.

    • this seems like a perfect candidate for a "large object xray machine" than for transmission.

      imagine, being able to get an xray of earth... if you transmit a known quantity of neurinos, and try detecting'em on other side of earth... wouldn't the amount detected depend a lot on how many "other particles" (matter) there is between the two points... giving you a grayscale pixel.

      Do that to many locations on the planet, and you can come up with an xray image of the earth.

  • 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.
  • 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?

    • 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.
      • 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 pri
    • by mhotchin (791085)

      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.

  • 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!

  • 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?

    • by ledow (319597)

      The same way we know they exist, proved they exist, detect them now enough to know that we've created them and the way we "thought" they travelled faster-than-light in Italy last year:

      By their interactions with other particles.

      They do interact, even though they can, statistically, still pass through entire planets in enough numbers that most come out the other side. But some interact with more-ordinary physical matter along the way that can be detected.

      They aren't ghost-like, they are just incredibly low-m

  • but not Barada Nikto...

    http://youtu.be/Jm2MB14JTSM [youtu.be]
  • by 21mhz (443080) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @04:47AM (#39361891) Journal

    You just cannot block it.

  • 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
    • by ledow (319597)

      I would be of the opinion that, if the technology can be made to work, it can be scaled up and my "ideal" application would actually be to have two permanent stations, one either side of the Earth. Power would not be an issue. Interruption would not be an issue (presumably it would be encrypted anyway - that's all we do know with conventional communications methods that can be intercepted).

      Positioning would be fixed. And because both stations can be as large and powerful as they like, fixed, and not tran

  • by dotmax (642602) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @06:29AM (#39362223)
    Sending neutrino messages is old hat. Receiving them is a bit more difficult, because neutrinos are so damned difficult to detect. They basically don't interact with anything, which is why Fermilab can shoot a neutrino beam an a 735 km underground trip to Minnesota. So to receive your IM, you need a detector the mass of the USS Iowa. I sent out "Dinner is served" back in the 80s, by the way.
  • The problem is that ordinary matter is too empty: trying to catch neutrino with ordinary matter is like trying to catch air with a tennis racket. I predict that extremely dense forms of matter (like the kind you find in a neutron star) would have no problem catching neutrinos. This will even allow miniaturized handheld neutrino detectors. This is way out of our league for now.
  • " for instance, then they could conceivably communicate over long distances through water, which is difficult, if not impossible, with present technology."

    VLF I think the submitter needs to learn about what is used for Submarines before speculating about it.

    And the neutreno transmission setup is not a spray and pray like RF communications. so it would be useless for submarine communication unless it was to sattelites where they can use high accuracy positioning servos to get a direct line to the intended

Counting in binary is just like counting in decimal -- if you are all thumbs. -- Glaser and Way

Working...