updated 12:35 pm EDT, Thu March 15, 2012
Scientists send first wireless neutrino message
Scientists and researchers at the University of Rochester and North Carolina State University have sent a wireless message using neutrinos through nearly 800 feet (240m exactly) of solid stone. The almost massless particles travel at the speed of light and can pass through nearly any matter they encounter. The message transmitted just read "Neutrino" and was sent in binary code.
Dan Stancil, a lead author on the research and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State, believed such a system could be used to communicate between any two points on Earth without satellites or cables. Neutrino communication systems would be much more complex than modern systems, however, as the demonstration involved "massive amounts" of high-tech gear, said another professor at the University of Rochester, Kevin McFarland, who was also involved in the project.
The experiment was performed at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab near Chicago. While there, they used one of the world's most powerful particle accelerators that sends neutrinos at high-speeds around a 2.5-mile circumference track. Also at their disposal was a multi-ton detector called MINERvA that's nearly 330 feet underground. The accelerator was running at half-speed as it was stepping down for an upcoming downtime. The detector could only detect one in ten billion neutrinos, so a great number was sent during the two-hour test.
Neutrons can pass through planets thanks to their neutral electric charge and almost non-existent mass. They are thus not affected by magnetic attractions and barely feel the effect of gravity. [via PhysOrg]