back to article Boffins render fibre obsolete

Even if they don’t travel faster than light, neutrinos have one killer advantage over other physical layer transmission systems: you don’t need to lay fibre or wires to carry messages. Working at Fermilab, a research team from the North Carolina State University and the University of Rochester have sent one word – “neutrino …


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  1. dssf

    Next, build a machine that can face-slap sleeping recipients and say:


  2. Originone

    How long....

    til Malcolm turnbull and the coalition are pointing at this and saying "See the NBN FTTH network is obsolete before its been built."?

  3. Einstein's Smarter Brother


    ..your laptop weighs 2Kg, but your NiFi card weighs 4 tons and probably needs a small power station to run it, oh...and the bandwidth is somewhat limited. However, I can see the extended range might be useful, especially in older houses with thicker walls!

    1. MNB

      Re: So...

      not only does the antenna of your networking equipment weigh several tons, it requires shielding by several hundred feet of rock, lest the cosmic rays tamper with the incredibly weak signal

      I think I'll stick to fibre.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So...

      So ideal for a submarine then?

  4. Jan 0 Silver badge

    Build Him Til He Breaks

    Can neutrinos be generated in a beam? Are neutrino detectors directional? If not, aren't we stuck with a single transmitter and receiver pair for all neutrino communications? Hmm, I suppose you could use phased arrays for transmission and reception. That's going to be massive!

    I think I'll stick to listening to the Neutrinos.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Build Him Til He Breaks

      Yes and yes. If you start with a beam of particles that generate the neutrinos, they will form a beam. And (some) detectors are directional (most notably Super Kamiokande), working by spotting the Čerenkov radiation from the electron or muon generated by an incoming neutrino.

      1. Whitter

        Re: Build Him Til He Breaks

        Sure: it will be a beam on the way out. But narrowly collomated from here to Mars with sufficient beam density at the receiving end to be detected? Nah, not really.

  5. LaeMing


    Should SETI be listening to neutrinos, or something even more obscure instead of that oh-so-primative EMF stuff?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: SETI

      Why - sure.

      Your could think of modulated gravity waves à la Larry Niven's "The Hole Man".

      The "Neutrino Signal" was used by Stanislaw Lem in "His Master's Voice" (which buries Carl Sagan's 'Contact' under the threads of a T-34 btw.)

      And for those who like to know things of no large real-world relevance: Didcha know that you can get Neutrino radiations burns from next-generation colliders? It's true!

      "Intense highly collimated neutrino beams are created from muon decays at high-energy muon colliders causing significant radiation problems even at very large distances from the collider ring. A newly developed weighted neutrino interaction generator permits detailed Monte Carlo simulations of the interactions of neutrinos (and of their progeny) to be performed using the MARS code. Dose distributions in a human tissue-equivalent phantom (TEP) are calculated

      when irradiated with neutrino beams (100 MeV–10 TeV). Results are obtained for a bare TEP, one embedded in several shielding materials and for a TEP located at various distances behind a shield. The distance from the collider ring (up to 60 km) at which recommended annual dose limits can be met is calculated for 0.5, 1, 2, 3 and 4 TeV muon colliders. The possibility to mitigate the problem via beam wobbling is investigated."

  6. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I'd get one but...

    ... I don't know anyone else who has one.

    1. Crisp

      Re: I'd get one but...

      It's a shame those FTL neutrinos didn't work out. You could buy a receiver now and then call yourself from the future to let yourself know if it's a good idea or not.

      1. NightFox

        Re: I'd get one but...

        OMG OMG OMG I cud get my BFE's FB updates b4 he's even made them OMG (etc)

  7. vic 4

    Dalek Hackers?

    Would this not mean some hacker could create a reality bomb ala the daleks, they only needed a botnet of 27 [planets] before they could use neutrinos to wipe out all life but their own. Better check my firewall and av software!

  8. Bill Posters

    Yeah but...

    mobile phones started off car mounted and computers were rooms etc etc and now I can carry both as one device in my pocket...

    Would you call this 0 G?

    Mine's the one with the extra large, very warm pocket.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Yeah but...

      Generally I'd endorse your view, but for neutrinos the limits are physical - particularly for the detector.

  9. Muckminded


    Already got some of my doohickeys entangled by a quantum mechanic. He charged next to nothing.

  10. Andy 70

    yes this is all very well

    but are they mutating?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahhh nuts...

    ...time to invest in a thicker tin foil hat.

  12. Neil Gerstenberg
    Thumb Down

    Boffin, Boffin, Boffin...

    I know this has been requested before... but can someone at El Reg please clamp down on the use of "Boffin"? Today we have 3 front page articles using the same word.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Boffin, Boffin, Boffin...

      Three on the same front page is a bit much, fine. But there's no ban on the word.


    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Boffin, Boffin, Boffin...

      There will be no clamping.

      We like "boffin" and we come here to read about boffins because this is the only place where we can read about boffins and what they boffinate. Of course, sometimes boffins can make themselves look like buffoons, but we like that too.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Boffin, Boffin, Boffin...

      it's the IT equivalent of The Sun, "Boffin" is required.

  13. Greg J Preece

    All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landings there. Use them together. Use them in peace.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or use them in Preece?

      1. Greg J Preece

        Oh, go on then

        Ba-dum tish.

  14. Matthew 3

    How long...

    ...before we discover that CERN is basically collecting transmissions of alien porn downloads?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How long...

      I would need to see it to believe it

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No more secure than WiFi, of course

    Unless you add quantum entanglement. Gee, that looks like a good decade's worth of grants for some lucky physicists.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Should solve a lot of problems with power too, just park your datacentre next door to the nearest nuclear power station*, voila, lots of power and a plentiful supply of neutrinos to send those 'Help it's a meltdown' SNMP traps at relativistic speeds through rock.

    *alternatively, you could park a container sized nuke next to the datacentre..

  17. Crisp

    Awesome News!

    How long till Ofcom start carving up the neutrino spectrum and selling it off?

  18. jonathanb Silver badge

    How fast is it

    I know that ping times will be excellent, given that they are possibly faster than light, and certainly faster than light going through a curved fibre optic cable. But what is the bit rate like? And what would the impact on the bitrate be as a result of interference from other neutrino transmitters?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: How fast is it

      I followed the link in the article and read...

      "The communication test was done during a two-hour period" that might be 72 bits in 7200 seconds, or roughly 0.01 baud.

      1. NightFox

        Re: How fast is it

        For some of us that's actually quite a tempting upgrade

  19. BuddyLee

    Old news...

    ...this had already been demonstrated by Telsa back in the 1800's. He invented wireless communication & also lit a light bulb without wires or cables, also was on the verge of creating a machine to read peoples thoughts. If these are all a result of him tapping into the Earth's neutrinos, then its been done! A shame scientists in 2012 are barely figuring what he'd mastered almost 100 years ago.

    1. Adam Foxton

      Re: Old news...

      You do know that you can light a lightbulb without wires in almost any home in the UK, right? Just take said lightbulb and stick it in the microwave.

      Given the nature of some of his work (Tesla coils and stuff like that) it's pretty likely that he just stumbled across a similar effect- a high frequency current induced in the wire filament.

      He wasn't tapping into the Earth's neutrinos, he was just using the same bit of physics that lets you heat a Carbonara in 3 minutes from chilled and sit and watch pictures broadcast from a nearby tower.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "only captures a few neutrinos out of every ten billion."

    Sound's more reliable than my ADSL connection...!

  21. JeffyPooh

    Financial Quants will want these - London to NYC, NYC to HK, etc.

    They'll kill for a millisecond. Imagine what they'll do to skirt underneath the curve of the Earth.

    In fact, we will only know that this has already been implemented when we wake up to find that some trading house now owns the entire Earth six times over.

  22. mhenriday
    Thumb Up

    Is that a neutron gun in your pocket,

    or are you just glad to see me (with apologies to delectable, not to say zaftig, Ms West) ?...

    (A thumbs up, not Paris, because here she's completely out of her league....)


  23. Stevie Silver badge


    Good luck selling this technology to the public once I leak the ugly fact that these "neutrinos" you write of are radioactive.

    The press will thrash about yelling about Cherobyl Rays and Fukushima Computers and all grant monies will dry up faster than the Möhne reservoir after a visit by 617 Squadron.

  24. john 112

    smells like

    Caution: Use of neutrino cell phones may cause nausea, raise the dead and incenerate small cities.

    Please use responsibly.

  25. john 112

    Smells like Victory

    Napalm can also be sued to communicate. No fibre needed.

  26. JanMeijer

    Beam me up

    I'll have my star trek communicator now thank you very much. Hold the power plant.

    And yes, of course CERN is where alien porn collects. As Scott Adams suggested, aliens are here and they live in Switzerland. It's not too much to assume they would need some entertainment? Which alien can resist the combination of particle accelerators, pron and the good laugh about all these earthling scientists making those little particle problems oh so complicated? Heck, they had to invent "the grid" for it ;)

    Not to mention the LHC provides a good cover for their own intergalactic transport and comms system.

  27. Old Handle


    So theoretically you could send a message straight through the Earth. That would in some sense make it "faster than light", since light would have to take the long way around. E.g. if you wanted to send a message from Los Angeles to London, it would be 5458 miles on the surface but only... um... 3900-ish miles as the neutrino flies, or about 0.02 seconds instead of 0.03. If only they could get the bandwidth up to par somehow that might have real applications.

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