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The Almighty Buck Science Technology

Neutrino-Powered Financial Trading In Our Future? 275

An anonymous reader writes "In a new feature on the future of high-frequency trading, Wired suggests that neutrino-powered financial trading systems may be coming soon, which would enable extremely low-latency information to be transmitted directly through the center of the Earth between major financial exchanges. If finance becomes the killer app for neutrino communication technology, it may ultimately make Neutrino SETI feasible. Quoting: 'It is only a matter of time, perhaps a few decades, says Alexander Wissner-Gross, a Harvard physicist, before some hedge fund decides it needs a particle accelerator to generate neutrinos, and then everyone will want one. Yes, they travel slower than light, but they indisputably can tunnel through the earth, cutting thousands of miles off an intercontinental message. And just a few days before the Battle of the Quants, right before the bad news about faster-than-light neutrinos, researchers announced they had sent a message by neutrino from the Fermilab accelerator in Chicago to a detector a kilometer away. According to Dan Stancil of North Carolina State University, the signal traveled at "very close to" the speed of light. Unfortunately, the data rate was only about 0.1 bits per second, meaning it would be useless for much more than sending a yes/no signal. "With the right modulation scheme, this could be increased by at least one or two orders of magnitude," Stancil said, adding "I don’t know of a compelling commercial application." But we’ve all heard the (apocryphal) story that Thomas J. Watson of IBM predicted "a world market for maybe five computers."'"
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Neutrino-Powered Financial Trading In Our Future?

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  • by hakey ( 1227664 ) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @11:14PM (#40883257)
    Hong Kong to US is about 150ms latency using conventional technology verizon [verizonbusiness.com]. So taking your own example of needing 100 bits to transmit a useful message (I don't know if that is realistic), the message would need to be transmitted faster than 666bps just to break even with existing communications. Given the cost of neutrino detectors and the current state of technology it just doesn't seem likely.
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @11:53PM (#40883525)
    It also doesn't help that we haven't actually observed superluminal phenomena of any sort (tachyons, quantum teleportation, warp drives, etc). Something to keep in mind when discussing the wonders of tachyon communication.
  • Energy != power (Score:5, Informative)

    by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @01:09AM (#40883829) Journal

    If you send the neutrino on too weak a power it will face interferences from other neutrinos produced by natural radioactive decay and solar processes

    First electron-volts measure energy. Power is energy per unit time i.e. joules per second. Energy is a property of each neutrino - a neutrino does not have a power. Power is a property of a beam of neutrinos and is the mean neutrino energy multiplied by the mean number of neutrinos emitted per second. Worse, your suggestion that neutrinos with millions of electron-volts of energy will be needed to avoid interference with radioactive decay could not be more wrong: radioactive decays emit neutrinos at MeV energies! MeV neutrinos will have very similar energies to those from natural radioactive decays!

    But if you want to send your neutrino and to ensure people on the other side of the planet can receive it, you have to send it at least with a power of in the order of millions of electron-volts

    Again you are confusing energy and power. There are two ways to detect neutrinos over background: beam intensity and energy. Accelerators generally produce neutrinos with GeV energies (billions of electron-volts). These have some background from cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere but give more directional information when detected i.e. you can tell where they came from better than low energy neutrinos so you can greatly reduce any background. Alternatively, if you have enough beam power then you can modulate the beam intensity in the remote detector which will modulate the count rate - you just need to have enough neutrinos to dominate the background. Also you need to bury your detectors to avoid backgrounds from cosmic ray muons.

I put up my thumb... and it blotted out the planet Earth. -- Neil Armstrong