back to article Boffins use nuclear radiation to send data wirelessly

Boffins from the UK's Lancaster University and the Jožef Stefan Institute in Slovenia have transmitted and received data wirelessly using nuclear radiation. The Register assumes that readers understand that the wireless tech used in phone networks, WiFi, Bluetooth, TV transmissions and the like employ electromagnetic radiation …

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  1. Richard 12 Silver badge

    I for one welcome our

    0.00028 Å overlords.

    100 terahertz WiFi sounds fun!

    Just don't stand too close to the router, m'kay?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: I for one welcome our

      So, by the time we get past 5G, 6G and reach 7G, the conspiracy theory nuts might actually have a point!!

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I for one welcome our

        Future Who Me:

        During a blackout Bruce accidentally stepped into the path of the neutron beam. ... He was able to complete his work by the light from his now glowing body. ... Have you ever had a workplace accident that provided an unexpected benefit?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: I for one welcome our

          Don't make the BOFH angry, your wouldn't like him when he's angry

          1. ravenviz

            Re: I for one welcome our

            Apparently he’s always angry!

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: I for one welcome our

              I don't believe he gets angry, he gets even.....

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Can't help feeling

    That the Nobel prize should go to these guys not for modulating the radiation, but for finding a way to turn it off.

    The nuclear clean up industry will be beating a path to their door!

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Can't help feeling

      It's not so much turned off as blocked.

      Unless I'm way off beam they seem to have reinvented the shuttered signal lamp.

      from around the 15 second mark here

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOt83AouoGU

      1. phy445

        Re: Can't help feeling

        I think you are a little off-beam. The neutrons are only generated when a pulse is applied to the system. That is different to opening/closing a shutter blocking a continuous source.

        1. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: Can't help feeling

          I think you're both right. The paper that is the main focus of the article, "Wireless information transfer with fast neutrons", is essentially a shutter lamp using neutrons produced by radioactive decay of Californium. But the second article mentioned, "Novel Surface-Mounted Neutron Generator" is about a very small accelerator-driven neutron generator that really does turn the radiation on and off (although it uses tritium as the target so there is still radioactive material involved, it's just producing the radiation of interest).

          Basically, the first paper shows that you can use neutrons to carry information, and then cites the second paper in the discussion to suggest what would probably be a better way to think about producing an actual useful device.

  3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Coat

    Is this a new take on RGB lighting?

    A computer rig that glows in the dark?

    New method to create das Blinkenliten?

    I'll get my coat. It's the white lab coat with the dose meter badge.

    1. jamesdagger

      Re: Is this a new take on RGB lighting?

      Does the badge read 3.6 Roentgen?

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Is this a new take on RGB lighting?

        Only the once. Not great.... Not terrible.

  4. Denarius Silver badge

    a small step

    Using neutrons as carriers, impressive. Next shrink, improve bandwidth etc. After that, neutrinos and the Start Trek phased neutrino communicator. Followed by new TLA tech to eaves drop

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: a small step

      Neutrino generators would indeed need to shrink somewhat to make a handheld communicator!

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: a small step

        But very difficult to block once you've got it working.

      2. druck Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: a small step

        Neutrinos are very different particles to neutrons.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: a small step

          there is a well known (theoretical) nuclear reaction in which a moving neutron in the presence of a gravitational field has a probability of splitting into a proton, an electron, and 2 anti-neutrinos. This reaction conserves mass+energy, momentum, and particle/anti-particle balance, and for a very long time the anti-neutrinos were only theoretical.

          In any case, the neutron communication beam would, in fact, end up decaying into anti-netrinos and free hydrogen-1 at some point.

          icon, because, nuclear radiation, right?

          unfortunately I do not know of any reaction that produces anti-matter proton+electron and neutrinos... at least not in THIS universe where matter (not anti-matter) won the "big bang" (theoretically). Maybe if it happens in the presence of ANTI-GRAVITY??

          Oh, and to produce neutrons it may be a bit easier if you use an alpha emitter and boron. If done electrostatically (from an ionized beam of helium gas) it might actually be practical to modulate it with a signal. OK an adapted design of a travelling wave tube just popped into my head, morphed into a particle accelerator with a Boron-10 target. Mad Science!

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: a small step

        The generators might be possible to make small. You'd still need to be carrying around a tank with a couple of million litres of dry-cleaning fluid to detect them. Neutrinos might be more useful as a means of interplanetary communication, as they'll go right through anything in that happens to be in the way, such as another planet, in a way that radio waves do not.

        Still not superluminary though, you'd need (hypothetical) tachyons for that, and those are definitely Star Trek material.

        1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Re: a small step

          More useful for wireless communication with some thing on the other side of this planet or under water - like a fleet of nuclear subs.

      4. codyceps

        Re: a small step

        You may well need a shrink after making few callsfrom a communicator like that one. Since neutrino does not influence with matter at all, everyone around you will know you just pretending to call someone.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: a small step

          Oh, they do. There's several neutrino detectors, including one that (mistakenly) measured them going slightly FTL.

          They aren't exactly portable, though.

          1. Lotaresco

            Re: a small step

            "Oh, they do. There's several neutrino detectors, including one that (mistakenly) measured them going slightly FTL."

            That has happened twice now, with two different detectors. The first time was with the INFN OPERA experiment, later attributed to a loose fibre optic cable. The second time was with the Fermilab MINOS experiment, which gave a mean neutrino speed of 1.000051c; the 99% confidence interval was 0.999976c to 1.000126c.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: one small step for a man, one Giant Quantum IT Leap for Future Mankind*

      Followed by new TLA tech to eaves drop .... Denarius

      Or for new TLA tech to be remotely led with an AI Following Servering Futures with Myriads of Derivative Product ‽ A Vast Treasure Trove of Immaculately Sourced Assets with Endless Practical Abilities Realising and EMPowering the Beta Direction of Present Visualised Realities for an Almighty Influence. UberPowerful Presence. ........ QuITe AWEsome Being.

      * An Alien Derivative for Prime Novel NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTivated Drive with Drivers of Immaculate SuperVision Led Narrative Presenting Key Virtual Machine ACTivity Instruction for Reality Productions from SuperVisionary Source ......Enabling Impeccable Provision of Heavenly Needs and Feeds and Seeds for Earthly Growth and COSMIC Community Authority Immunity Recognition.

      1. FuzzyTheBear
        Joke

        Re: one small step for a man, one Giant Quantum IT Leap for Future Mankind*

        Bit of sesquipedalian loquaciousness there friend ?

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Bit of sesquipedalian loquaciousness there friend ?

          Yup

      2. anthonyhegedus

        Re: one small step for a man, one Giant Quantum IT Leap for Future Mankind*

        and this... what's this meant to actually mean?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: one small step for a man, one Giant Quantum IT Leap for Future Mankind*

          I see you're not familiar with amanfromMars. This post is more lucid than some...

      3. NXM

        Re: one small step for a man, one Giant Quantum IT Leap for Future Mankind*

        Is that an ad for a Cosmic Water Energiser?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: a small step

      I wasn't thinking of Star Trek. Who remembers the Doctor who used to "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow"?

      1. Lotaresco

        Re: a small step

        It was the third Doctor played by Jon Pertwee who reversed the polarity of the neutron flow.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: a small step

          The third Doctor was the first Doctor played by Jon Pertwee, wasn't it?

          1. KarMann Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: a small step

            Sure, if you assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, well, it's a bit more complicated than that.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: a small step

              "Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey" ?

          2. KarMann Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: a small step

            And that aside, I see that he also played Dr. Fettle in Carry on Screaming, so the third Doctor would be (at least) the second played by Pertwee.

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
              Holmes

              Re: a small step

              Ah ha! Well sleuthed, sir!

              So we have: the third doctor is the second doctor played by Jon Pertwee.

              But! We are forgetting something!

              > It was the third Doctor played by Jon Pertwee

              In the larger, Regeneration sense, of course, it was the first Doctor played by all the actors.

        2. Lotaresco

          Re: a small step

          Last night the current Doctor reversed the polarity of the neutron flow but did so en passant.

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    :-) Hello Worlds. What’s Not to Like in Live Operational Virtual Environmental Command&Control ‽

    That was an interesting and encouraging and even an engagingly enticingly crafted read, Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor, which very nearly almost also opened up more fully for critical entangled mass entry and bedevilment and/or bewonderment and bewilderment, the great vaulted doors into and onto the Novel and Virgin Fields of NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT.

    ElRegers and Stuxnet fans alike might appreciate knowing a lot more about any of those sorts of dynamically ACTive developments clearly underground and covert because if/when reports do not afford them the light of day and general knowledge are they rendered the possibility of being a deep and dark secret ripe for private and pirate trading ...... to friends and foe alike ?

    The following response and reply to opinions expressed on https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2021/11/10/four-essential-rules-for-developing-revolutionary-networked-capabilities, commentary which wasn't displayed soon after reviewing despite it be so promised immediately after posting ....[Thank you. Your comment will be displayed soon after reviewing.] ...... advises one and all of current shenanigans and future events on both near home and far foreign horizons.

    Tom, outside developers that will be needed to create the needed solutions will certainly not leave the industry to engage less risky early stage development environments if Uncle Sam does not recognise the potential in any proposed and novel great game changing system of global protection and/or national and internetional defence, they will simply transfer their attention and interests to engage and employ and enjoy the benefits to be savoured with what many might then perceive and realise be a very able foreign competition easily mistaken and/or pimped as a constant enemy. And some developers may even decide that second and third party help is not necessarily vital for rapid progress and thus will they proceed somewhat alone to produce a product which they can sell to any who want it for an extremely handsome sum.

    Indeed, the proprietary intellectual property in some extremely sensitive developments is oft best known to only a very select and able few, given the damage and destruction that it can cause in the wrong hands/hearts and minds.

    Here is a taste of that sort of a development which is currently available to any and all with an interest in its efficacy.

    Colonel Brian Russell, the commander of the II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group (II MEFIG) explained the ability for military personnel to "reprogram" equipment on the frontlines would ensure operational advantages. He said cyber Marines will help reshape the battlefield, indicating these elite groups of soldiers "could influence the local population, take out enemy networks, disrupt the enemy's kill chain, and much more. ........ "Whether you like it or not, or realize it or not, all of our Marines are involved in this information environment, and we need to prepare them for that reality......... https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/cyber-marines-will-win-war-tomorrow-digital-battlefield

    That is all very well and applaudable, but it is however already not the current reality to be dealt with in order to ensure situational authority and operational superiority.

    Others elsewhere, obviously foreign and alien to Uncle Sam Forces and Sources, have moved on into much more advanced fields with innate abilities and remote utilities and virtual machine facilities that program/reprogram personnel for front lines that guarantee operational advantage ensured to assuringly influence local population, take out enemy networks, disrupt the enemy's kill chain, and much more ..... whether you like it or not.

    And such is not so much a new destructive battlefield, although it can easily be morphed into many of those if one knows what needs to be done, but rather more a novel creative playground.

    Honest, I Kid U Not.

    1. anthonyhegedus

      Re: :-) Hello Worlds. What’s Not to Like....

      Could you do that in English please?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: :-) Hello Worlds. What’s Not to Like....

        I don't think they speak it on Mars.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: :-) Hello Worlds. What’s Not to Like....

          Well not proper English anyway.

          Bloody martians, coming here in their tripods tekin ar jerbs

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: :-) Hello Worlds. What’s Not to Like....

            ...with their stinkin' red weed, and all their ooooooollllaaaaaaaaaas

  6. Valeyard

    sp they did higher frequency packet radio, except you get to say "within the neutron field" and things like that

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Nuclear powered clacks.

    Message received. Thud!

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    My new Neutron phone is great and the extra ear I have grown is handy for listening to my three speaker stereo system but the greenish tinge to my skin when I get grumpy, has me a little concerned.......

  9. Flak

    Paper cups and strings

    Congratulations to the team that achieved this.

    Pure science is wonderful even if practical applications may not be immediately obvious.

    Sometimes you do stuff just because you can! For simplicity, try paper cups and strings :-)

    Megaphone - not to be shouty, but just because it is adjacent technology...

  10. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Conspiracy theorists

    You can almost hear them revving their engines...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Conspiracy theorists

      > You can almost hear them revving their engines...

      To make their brains explode just say that the nuclear radiation effects can be blocked by a simple vaccine which will be mandatory for anyone sending or receiving a message using this scheme.

  11. Pirate Dave Silver badge
    Pirate

    So

    spies working in nuclear facilities now have a new medium through which to send information? Or, err, maybe we're just now figuring out how they've been doing it for years... Interesting stuff either way.

  12. Chairman of the Bored

    Now if they could do this with neutrinos...

    ...that would be badass.

    The detector might require excess baggage charges though. Fermilab's current neutrino detector is a sphere continuing 800 tons of mineral oil and 1200+ photomultiplier tubes.

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