Scientists have used neutrinos to send a message. This may be the first step toward a new form of communication.
For the first time, scientists have used neutrinos – the exotic fundamental particles that routinely pass right through Earth – to send a message through the ground.
Researchers have long been intrigued by the communication possibilities of neutrinos, because these particles can easily travel through matter, including a planet, without stopping, slowing down or being misdirected.
Neutrinos are extremely tiny particles with almost zero mass and neutral charge. Thus they are impervious to electromagnetic forces and respond very weakly to gravity. They almost never collide with other particles, generally passing straight through the atoms that make up matter.
Now, scientists have successfully harnessed neutrinos to send a message from one place to another, spelling out the word "neutrino" in a particle binary code. [Nature's Tiniest Particles Dissected (Infographic)]
The researchers used the NuMI particle accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., to create beams of neutrinos, which result when speeding protons collide into a wall of carbon atoms. (NuMI stands for "Neutrinos at the Main Injector.")
The scientists then sent this beam toward a neutrino detector about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away, buried in a cavern.
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