First-Ever Wireless Data Transmission Using Neutrinos Works a Treat

By Jamie Condliffe on at

If you're a physicist, conventional Wi-Fi is boring. Or at least it is for a group of University of Rochester researchers, who have decided that the future of digital communication instead lies in exotic particles called neutrinos.

Neutrinos are neat things; they're virtually massless and travel extremely close to the speed of light. They can also pass through objects—as big as planets—without flinching. It's that property that has had scientists convinced for that they may be useful for transmitting data, by sending messages through the Earth, rather than around it. And now, the implementation has finally moved bast the numbers-on-a-chalkboard stage.

Using a particle accelerator at Fermilab, the team from Rochester has managed to send a binary message spelling out the word "neutrino,z' which they had encoded into a beam of neutrinos, through 780 feet of solid stone.

So, particle accelerators don't come cheap, and the end goal—actually communicating with neutrinos—is some way off. But because they're barely affected by gravity and completely unaffected by magnetic fields, neutrinos could some day be beaming data right through the center of our planet. [University of Rochester; Image: University of Rochester]