We send data using the electromagnetic force, mainly over the form of radio waves, though this could be and is (mostly for human viewing of images) done with visible light. However, I want to know if we could send signals using the strong nuclear force. We can use gravitational waves to send signals, but the EM force is 10^36 times stronger. But, the strong force is a hundred times stronger than that! My guess is that you can, and I looked up if you can transfer waves using gravitational waves, and this could possibly mean that in theory (don't know about in practice) data can be transferred ~100x more efficiently.

Source: Can gravitational wave be used for data transmission?

Note: what I mean is if, in practice, using technology that currently exists or can reasonably be created using today’s available resources, the strong nuclear force can be used to send data over the internet. Also, if it is possible in theory or in practice but is really expensive, please give an example in that scenario as well. I think it could use less energy.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice idea, but the strong force has the issue of confinement. This means the strong force version of electromagnetic waves known as the gluon cannot propagate freely in space. $\endgroup$
    – KF Gauss
    Jan 13, 2020 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ I think that the answer is probably not because of this. Even though it is theoretically possible through gravity waves and took energy on the order of solar masses for us to measure it even a little bit. $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2020 at 0:16
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know about the real world. On the sci-fi front Greg Egan's "Schild's Ladder" has a nuclear-scale computer. It exists only for nanoseconds (?) and there is no way to extract information from it. But I'm pretty sure it uses the strong force for computation instead of electromagnetism! (I don't have the book at hand.) $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2020 at 11:08
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    $\begingroup$ A nice follow-up question would be asking the same of the weak nuclear force. I think the answer would also be no, but for different reasons. $\endgroup$
    – gardenhead
    Jan 13, 2020 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ Better use the weak force, then you can send neutrinos straight through the earth and be pi times faster than those surface-dwelling EM losers. $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    Jan 13, 2020 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


Both the EM force and gravity are long range forces. The mediator is massless.

Now the gluon is massless too. So far so good. But gluons and quarks live in confinement. That is why the strong force is considered short range. Confinement is a tricky beast, you cannot use gluons to propagate through vacuum vast (or any) distance to transfer information.

The strong force inherently has such a high strength that hadrons bound by the strong force can produce new massive particles. Thus, if hadrons are struck by high-energy particles, they give rise to new hadrons instead of emitting freely moving radiation (gluons). This property of the strong force is called color confinement, and it prevents the free "emission" of the strong force: instead, in practice, jets of massive particles are produced.


If you are thinking about the residual strong force (nuclear force), then it is short range too, the mediator(s) are massive, like the pion, rho, omega.


  • $\begingroup$ I thought about that after asking the question. $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2020 at 0:35
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    $\begingroup$ Can we think about some medium (say, neutron star matter) that will conduct some "strong" waves just like ordinary plasma conducts EM waves? In this case, no long-range interaction is needed. $\endgroup$
    – fraxinus
    Jan 13, 2020 at 10:25

Theoretically, one could use strong force in the form of neutron beams for communications. Currently, even relativistic neutron beams can be created (https://lansce.lanl.gov/facilities/wnr/), I suspect for weapons applications. The range for such beams can be assessed as the neutron mean lifetime (about 15 minutes) times the speed of light.

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    $\begingroup$ Isn't the 15 minutes in the neutron's frame of reference, thus with sufficient energy the range should be arbitrary? $\endgroup$
    – LLlAMnYP
    Jan 13, 2020 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ Yea in theory .. time dilation near the speed of light would make them live longer for outside watchers .. for the neutron the 15 minutes remain $\endgroup$
    – eagle275
    Jan 13, 2020 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ @LLlAMnYP : That is correct, but, on the one hand, the range that my estimate provides is huge anyway, on the other hand, the difference is not large for the available neutron beams with energy of about 600 MeV. Another approximation used to make the estimate (I assumed that the speed of a relativistic neutron beam equals the speed of light) leads to some overestimation of the range. $\endgroup$
    – akhmeteli
    Jan 13, 2020 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ Would a relativistic neutron beam offer information-density advantages over just using a laser, as the OP originally asked? $\endgroup$
    – CarlF
    Jan 13, 2020 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlF : I am not sure, but it seems theoretically possible, as the de Broglie wavelength for such neutrons is much less that the wavelength of visible light. $\endgroup$
    – akhmeteli
    Jan 14, 2020 at 2:50

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