beamjockey (beamjockey) wrote,

It's the Talk of the Planet

I had no idea this was going on, almost literally right under my nose.

Experimenters at Fermilab have used the NUMI beam and the MINERνA detector to transmit a message through hundreds of meters of rock.

Account at the Symmetry Breaking blog. University of Rochester press release.

The paper: D. D. Stancil and a great many collaborators, "Demonstration of Communication using Neutrinos," submitted to Modern Physics Letters A. Its abstract:
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.
This notion has been kicking around for a while. Robert Perry wrote about the prospect of neutrino communications in Popular Mechanics in September 1978-- the same month Fermilab was hiring me to work in the Neutrino Department as an engineering physicist. It's nostalgic to see pictures of the place as it was in the Seventies. I learned a lot about how to make neutrinos, but never managed to communicate using them.

Mr. Perry interviewed physicists who were optimistic, nearly to the point of delusion, about the idea. (They were also getting grants from the U.S. Navy to study neutrino communication with submarines, so I suppose they had a professional reason to keep up the appearance of optimism.)

It took a long time before this was accomplished, and it may still not be very practical, but nevertheless I salute the neutrino talkers of MINERνA.
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