We all love cell phones. We all hate when they lose signal. If you’re inside a building, underground, or underwater, it’s too difficult for radio waves to escape and carry your message to whoever you’re talking to. That’s why scientists are working on communications by neutrinos.
A neutrino is a massless, chargeless particle that doesn’t interact with ordinary matter. Every day, countless neutrinos pass right through the planet without stopping and continue on through space. They leave almost no trace of their presence, and it takes massive and complicated technology to detect even a small handful of them.
Researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of Rochester have found a way to encode binary information into neutrinos and transmit it through solid rock to a detector. They managed to send a single word: “Neutrino.” Not very creative, but it still proves their point. Neutrinos can be used for communications.
At the moment, this is not exactly practical, but given time I’m sure neutrino detectors can be simplified and shrunk down to the size of a cell phone. Then all your phone calls from the bottom of the ocean will come through loud and clear.
As cool as neutrino cell phones would be, this development raises an even bigger issue. If neutrinos can be used for communications, surely some alien society would have already done so. Maybe SETI should spend less time listening to radio waves coming from space and more investigating all those countless neutrinos passing through our planet. There might be binary information encoded in them.
For more information on this neutrino experiment, click here.