4
$\begingroup$

Referring to this article, where we see there are three flavors of neutrinos, got me thinking of simple binary-based communication, but more like the UDP protocol where we can live with dropped packets.

The dropped packets in this case would be when the neutrino changes types or flavors, or not detected. I'm not sure if the loss or change would be within an acceptable range, but it got me thinking.

If they can detect a transmitted neutrino hundreds of miles away without an actual conduit (cables, wires, EM tunnel), could a communication system not be derived out of this?

It is understood that with today's technology, detectors are large, expensive, and only detect some of the neutrinos. But in theory, is this not possible, and if so, how?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Just to clarify, you are asking if neutrino-based communication is theoretically possible, as opposed to practically possible, right? $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 10 '15 at 14:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related (possible dupes): physics.stackexchange.com/questions/76531/… physics.stackexchange.com/questions/12834/…? physics.stackexchange.com/questions/70132/…?. In one of those I also linked a proof-of-concept article: worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0217732312500770 $\endgroup$ – dmckee Aug 10 '15 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Jimself - Yes... theoretically vs practically. I understand that it is extremely expensive and difficult to build detectors. $\endgroup$ – ElHaix Aug 10 '15 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ Is there any practical application to your neutrino based comm system? Are we expecting to need to communicate FTL with an alien species which has loose fibre optic cables? $\endgroup$ – Aron Aug 10 '15 at 16:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Aron, I forgot about that story. I didn't realize that when you said "alien species", you actually were talking about Italians. :-) $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Aug 10 '15 at 18:02
8
$\begingroup$

It's possible to detect neutrinos in whichever flavor they are oscillating through, so that won't necessarily cause a "dropped packet" problem.

The answer is, technically, yes, there is no physical law preventing the use of neutrinos as a communication medium. It has been demonstrated that we can cause the emission and detection of neutrinos. For example, neutrino emissions have been detected from a nuclear reactor at a distance of 1 km in this paper.

However, it really can't be overstated just how difficult it is to detect neutrinos. It's really, really difficult. As in, subterranean-cavern-sized-detector level of difficulty. The cross section that neutrinos have with the type of matter we have access to is vanishingly small. It would be an astonishingly expensive, inconvenient, and inefficient method of communication.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ CHOOZ is not the half up it (and it's a hoot how they were describing 1 km as long base-line at the time): KamLAND does reactor neutrinos from all over Japan and the Korean peninsula with a weighted average distance of about 160 km. But reactor neutrinos are unduely difficult for communications purposes: beam neutrinos switch faster and have higher cross-sections. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Aug 10 '15 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ A lot of great references and articles, thank you. $\endgroup$ – ElHaix Aug 10 '15 at 15:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Come to think about it, neutrinos are often used to signal to earth scientist to prepare the light telescopes for a supernova event. $\endgroup$ – Aron Aug 10 '15 at 18:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, I don't know if I'd say often, but that is a good example. $\endgroup$ – Brionius Aug 10 '15 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Aron: unless I am mistaken, we have a statistic of one for neutrino detection with a SNe event. And even that one, as close as it was to us, gave as a grand total of 25 neutrinos. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Aug 11 '15 at 0:02
6
$\begingroup$

Yes and it already happened. http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2012/mar/19/neutrino-based-communication-is-a-first

From the arXiv:1203.2847

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.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ That moment when I reread my own comment ^^ $\endgroup$ – Corneliu Maftuleac Oct 22 '16 at 19:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.