A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘neutrinos

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Architectuul looks back at some highlights from 2019.
  • Bad Astronomy looks at the gas cloud, red and green, of RCW 120.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the dynamics of identity politics, here.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes a NASA statement about the importance of understanding dust dynamics in other solar systems to find Earth analogues.
  • Far Outliers looks at the problems pacifying the Chesapeake Bay area in 1813, here.
  • Gizmodo looks at the most popular Wikipedia articles for the year 2019.
  • io9 shares a video of images from a 1995 Akira cyberpunk computer game that never got finished.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at how the United States tried to “civilize” the Inupiat of Alaska by giving them reindeer herds.
  • Language Hat links to an online atlas of Scots dialects.
  • Language Log reports on a 12th century Sanskrit inscription that testifies to the presence of Muslims in Bengal at that point.
  • Marginal Revolution notes how much Tuvalu depends on revenue from its .tv Internet domain.
  • Drew Rowsome looks at the Duncan Ralston horror novel Salvage, set in small-town Canada.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the strong relationship between wealth and life expectancy in France.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes that, in a hypothetical supernova, all life on an Earth-like planet would be boiled alive by neutrinos.
  • Strange Maps links to a graphic interface that translates a word into all the languages of Europe.
  • Understanding Society looks at the structures of high-reliability organizations.
  • Window on Eurasia shares a suggestion that Homer Simpson is actually the US’ version of Russia’s Ivan the Fool.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • Architectuul looks at the photos and the architecture of Carlo Mollino, all curves.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a remarkable piece of detective work, identifying candidate stars responsible for a close encounter that threw a planet of star HD 109606 into a distant eccentric orbit.
  • John Holbo at Crooked Timber takes a second look at the “Historovox” concept raised by Corey Robin.
  • D-Brief notes a study suggesting planets in close orbit of red dwarf stars could experience sufficient tectonic stresses from their star to remain geologically active.
  • Far Outliers looks at how and why, in Calcutta, the poor were kept physically close to the rich.
  • Gizmodo reports on a massive nuclear superbubble thousands of light-years wide in the heart of galaxy NGC 3079, with photos.
  • Hornet Stories shares a shortlist of essential books by LGBTQ writers from the United Kingdom.
  • JSTOR Daily notes how architect Mary Colter came up with ingenious buildings for the Grand Canyon that fit this unique environment.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money shares a compelling argument against the Electoral College.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that Mormonism stands out among American religions as enjoying continued, if decelerating, growth.
  • The NYR Daily considers if there is a point at which empathy becomes banal.
  • Corey S. Powell writes at Out There about how the Spirit and Opportunity rovers were deeply meaningful surrogates for human minds on Mars.
  • Justin Petrone at north! argues that MTV’s The Real World set a precedent for individual people to be self-curating and self-creating their representations.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes the historic discovery of the cosmic neutrino background, a signal formed one second after the Big Bang.
  • Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps shares a map showing the long train journey of Kim Jong-um across China to the recent summit in Hanoi.
  • Towleroad notes</u. that the Donald Duck comic is going to see a lesbian character for the first time.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how a new Russian governmental process of optimization is undermining many small communities in rural Russia, a picture familiar to many in Canada, too.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Architectuul has an extended long interview with architect Dragoljub Bakić, talking about the innovative architecture of Tito’s Yugoslavia and his experiences abroad.
  • Centauri Dreams remarks on how the new maps of Pluto can evoke the worlds of Ray Bradbury.
  • The Crux answers an interesting question: What, exactly, is a blazar?
  • D-Brief links to a study suggesting that conditions on Ross 128 b, the second-nearest potentially habitable planet, are potentially (very broadly) Earth-like.
  • Dangerous Minds shows how John Mellencamp was, in the 1970s, once a glam rocker.
  • The Finger Post shares photos from a recent visit to Naypyidaw, the very new capital of Myanmar.
  • Gizmodo explains how the detection of an energetic neutrino led to the detection of a distant blazar, marking yet another step forward for multi-messenger astronomy.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on the now-overlooked writer of supernatural fiction Vernon Lee.
  • Language Log makes an argument that acquiring fluency in Chinese language, including Chinese writing, is difficult, so difficult perhaps as to displace other cultures. Thoughts?
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money suggests that the decline of the neo-liberal world order is needed. My main concern is that neo-liberalism may well be the least bad of the potential world orders out there.
  • Lingua Franca takes a look at how Hindi and Urdu, technically separate languages, actually form two poles of a Hindustani language continuum.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a unique map of the London Underground that shows the elevation of each station.
  • Rocky Planet notes that the continuing eruption of Kilauea is going to permanently shape the lives of the people of the Big Island of Hawai’i.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the Buddhists of Kalmykia want the Russian government to permit a visit by the Dalai Lama to their republic.
  • Writing at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Livio Di Matteo notes that the Trump demand NATO governments spend 4% of their GDP on defense would involve unprecedented levels of spending in Canada.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Anthro{dendum}’s Adam Fish looks at the phenomenon of permissionless innovation as part of a call for better regulation.
  • James Bow shares excerpts from his latest book, The Cloud Riders.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes how data from Voyager 1’s cosmic ray detectors has been used to study dark matter.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money begins a dissection of what Roe vs Wade meant, and means, for abortion in the United States, and what its overturn might do.
  • Ilan Stavans, writing for Lingua Franca at the Chronicle, considers the languages of the World Cup. The prominence of Spanish in the United States is particularly notable.
  • The LRB Blog gathers together articles referencing the now-departed Boris Johnson. What a man.
  • The Map Room Blog reports/u> on Matthew Blackett’s remarkably intricate transit map of Canada.
  • Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution links to a study from Nature exploring how shifts in the definition of concepts like racism and sexism means that, even as many of the grossest forms disappear, racism and sexism continue to be recognized if in more minute form.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel looks at how a Japanese experiment aimed at measuring proton decay ended up inaugurating the era of neutrino astronomy, thanks to SN1987A.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on how a Russian proposal to resettle Afrikaner farmers from South Africa to the North Caucasus (!) is, unsurprisingly, meeting with resistance from local populations, including non-Russian ones.
  • Linguist Arnold Zwicky takes a look at how, exactly, one learns to use the F word.

[NEWS] Four science links: neutrinos and Antarctica, ‘Oumuamua, Ceres and Pluto, panspermia

  • This feature explaining how neutrino telescopes in Antarctica are being used to study the Earth’s core is fascinating. The Globe and Mail has it.
  • Universe Today shares “Project Lyra”, a proposal for an unmanned probe to interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua.
  • Dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto, Nora Redd suggests at Discover, may have much more in common than we might think. Is Ceres a KBO transported into the warm asteroid belt?
  • Universe Today reports on one paper that takes a look at some mechanisms behind galactic panspermia.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 24, 2017 at 4:45 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Charlie Stross at Antipope wonders what subtle techniques could be used to sabotage a modern technology firm.
  • Bad Astronomy notes the work that went into determining the origins of a high-energy neutrino.
  • blogTO praises the Toronto Islands.
  • Imageo shares this unsettling graphic depicting rising global temperatures over time.
  • The Map Room notes, using Amazon’s controversy over same-day delivery being coincidentally limited largely to areas with non-black populations, the problems involved with being blind about data.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen makes the case for Britain staying in the imperfect European Union.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that the new Brazilian government’s all-male cabinet required some work, given the presence of women in Brazil’s business life.
  • Transit Toronto looks at plans for new GO Station construction in the GTA.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russian coverage of Crimean Tatar Jamala’s song “1944” and her victory for Ukraine at Eurovision.

[LINK] “Tomorrow’s stocks could be traded via neutrino beam”

I blogged at the end of March about the apparent birth, in Chicago’s Fermilab, of the first generation of neutrino communications systems. I shared the speculation at the time that communications systems using neutrinos, those elementary particles which travel at the speed of light and hardly intersect matter at all, would be useful in communications with space probes and submarines, i.e. vehicles out of communication for long periods of time because conventional electromagnetic communications systems are blocked by massive quantities of matter. (Oceans, say, or planets.) Now, io9 notes that neutrino communications systems might be useful for stock trading.

Neutrinos may not travel faster than light, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be put to good use. By sending encoded pulses of neutrinos on a 10,000 km shortcut directly through the Earth, financial firms and high-frequency trading companies think they can get a 44-millisecond communication advantage over their competitors.

That might not sound like much of an edge, but in a world where hundreds of millions of dollars change virtual hands in just fractions of a second, even milliseconds become significant.

“Thirty milliseconds is a lot of time in high-velocity trading,” explains former J.P. Morgan Chase options trader Espen Gaarder Haug in an interview with Forbes Magazine.

According to Haug, cities with the greatest distance between them would stand to gain the biggest time boost. Communication between New York and Tokyo would see a 23.7 millisecond time advantage; communications between London and Sydney would see almost double that.

Of course, financial institutions still need the infrastructure to make this all happen, which would basically require a particle accelerator beneath any firm that wanted in on the latest, greatest trading trend. And while that’s not likely to happen anytime soon, something tells us that as soon as one of these firms takes the plunge on neutrino-communication, the rest of them are liable to follow suit.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 2, 2012 at 3:57 am

[BRIEF NOTE] On the latest breakthrough in neutrino communication systems

It’s a minor surprise that the Economist has become my go-to site for breakthroughs in neutrino-based communications.

The neutrino is a unique particle, an exceptionally light and electrically neutral that’s most notable for traveling almost exactly at the speed of light (likely just short of the speed of light, notwithstanding debunked claims of faster-than-light travel) and for hardly interacting with normal matter at all. To be sure of intercepting the average neutrino produced by the sun in the course of its nuclear fusion, you’d need a solid barrier of lead one light-year thick. The difficulty of intercepting neutrinos makes them of interest to scientists who are interested in examining environments impervious to the electromagnetic spectrum, places like the interior of the sun (or other stars).

More recently, the durability of the neutrino has made people interested in extraterrestrial intelligences wonder if advanced civilizations might make use of neutrinos to create unstoppable signals across interstellar distances. I first came across the idea in this 2009 Centauri Dreams post speculating about Antarctic neutrino observatory, but a 2011 article from the Economist went into greater detail, suggesting that neutrino beams could be used not only as signals but as awesome tools that could manipulate the fluctuations of Cepheid variable stars into intelligible signals. An article printed this month announced that, for the first time, neutrinos have been used to communicate data. This news was expanded upon by a post at the Economist‘s technology blog, Babbage. The facilities of Fermilab in Chicago, including the MINERvA neutrino detector, were key.

MINERvA uses a beam of neutrinos sent from Fermilab’s accelerator, the Main Injector, to a detector roughly 1km (0.6 miles) away. The beam is created by smashing pulsed bunches of trillions of protons into a graphite target. For a week before the start of a maintenance break, however, it runs at half its typical intensity, not ideal for MINERvA’s day job, but just dandy for the communications test. (The data collected are nonetheless used for MINERvA’s everyday research.)

The detector is hidden underground to ensure that the rare events observed in it are due to neutrinos and not cosmic rays, which do not penetrate rock. As a result, the experiment’s neutrinos must travel 240 metres through the Earth’s crust, precisely the sort of thing the theorists envisaged.

The message, which read “neutrino”, was transcribed into a string of “0s” and “1s” using the standard code employed in digital communications. The beam was then tweaked so that a pulse created using a full bunch of protons corresponded to a “1”, while one with no protons signalled a “0”. The pulses were separated by 2.2 seconds and the message was repeated in cycle for about two hours.

At the receiving end, each “1” translated into an average of 0.8 neutrino events registered in the detector; a “0”, naturally, translated into none. This was enough to reconstruct the message accurately.

Practical neutrino-phones are, of course, a long way off. For a start, the data-transmission rate, at a piddling 0.1 bits per second with a bit error rate of 1%, leaves a lot to be desired, though it could be improved with a more intense beam, which would anyway be required to send messages over long distances. A bigger problem is that MINERvA’s detector, at 5 metres long, 3.5 metres high and weighing 170 tonnes, is not exactly portable. And the Main Injector is many times heftier still. All the same, who said fundamental physics has no real-world applications?

The paper in question is “Demonstration of Communication using Neutrinos”, available at arXiv.

That site’s blog suggested one practical use for neutrino communications systems, in communicating with underwater craft like submarines. When submerged, submarines can communicate with surface facilities only through extremely low frequency (ELF) radio waves that firstly can only penetrate a hundred or so metres and secondly can only transmit around 50 bits per second. A neutrino-based communications system that transmitted at comparable speeds and could be picked up at unlimited depths anywhere on the world’s oceans would be an obvious replacement for ELF radio. As the blog notes the data transmission rate for neutrino communications systems would need to be improved by several orders of magnitude, while the bulkiness of the detector systems–MINERvA masses five tons–is another issue. Still, I’m not inclined to bet against further progress in this domain.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 22, 2012 at 2:53 am