Wireless Communications Entering Particle PhysicsCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: March 15, 2012 12:00PM
All modern wireless communication technology relies on photons of one kind or another. From the microwave frequencies of Wi-Fi to the radio waves of, well, radio, the quanta of electromagnetism are used. Unfortunately our friend, the photon is easily stopped by walls, water, and mountains, but it is not the only 'particle' in the Universe. Researchers from the University of Rochester and North Carolina State University have turned to another particle that was recently made famous, the neutrino.
Neutrinos are both very useful and very annoying particles in physics. A great deal can be learned about reactions and the Universe itself by studying neutrinos, but they are very difficult to catch. These particles travel at or just below the speed of light (possibly faster, but those results still need to be confirmed) but barely interact with anything. In fact, in the time it takes you to read this news item, literally trillions upon trillions of these particles, made in the core of the Sun, will pass through your body.
Using the particle accelerator and MINERvA detector at Fermilab, the researchers successfully transmitted the word "neutrino," in computer-friendly binary, through 240 meters of stone. Obviously a 2.5 mile circumference particle accelerator and multi-ton detector will not keep your calls from dropping when you enter an elevator, but all technology has to start somewhere.