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Old 03-14-2012, 07:34 PM   #1
Mysterious Dark Lord v3.2
 
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Default Real Life Races Ahead of the Tech Level Again!

The problem with modern science fiction is to have a neato gadget in a story before someone actually builds it.

The latest example is the Neutrino Communicator, a device which is, according to Ultra-Tech is not only TL 11 but qualifies as super-science (i.e. possibly impossible).

And now one's actually been built.
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:47 PM   #2
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Default Re: Real Life Races Ahead of the Tech Level Again!

like somebody said "before you know it the future is here".
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Real Life Races Ahead of the Tech Level Again!

Is all you need is a 2.5-mile circumference particle accelerator and a 100-ton detector, and you're good.

:-)

Still, the fact that they send a message "Neutrino" rather than just "yes, we detected something" means that real communication IS possible which is cool.
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:53 PM   #4
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Real Life Races Ahead of the Tech Level Again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mysterious Dark Lord v3.2 View Post
The latest example is the Neutrino Communicator, a device which is, according to Ultra-Tech is not only TL 11 but qualifies as super-science (i.e. possibly impossible).

And now one's actually been built.
UY's still pretty safe. It has a TL10^ unit at 400lbs tiotal with a range pf 100,000 miles for a weight of 400 lbs.

The non-superscience version has a sender that's SM+17 and a reciever that's 100 tons and has a range of 240 meters.
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Mysterious Dark Lord v3.2 View Post
The problem with modern science fiction is to have a neato gadget in a story before someone actually builds it.

The latest example is the Neutrino Communicator, a device which is, according to Ultra-Tech is not only TL 11 but qualifies as super-science (i.e. possibly impossible).

And now one's actually been built.
Uh...no. That's like Hero's steam engine. It's not that neutrino communication is inherently TL 11^. It's that the neutrino communicators that don't require a dozen tons of material as a backstop would be TL 11^.

Last edited by David Johnston2; 03-14-2012 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 03-14-2012, 08:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Real Life Races Ahead of the Tech Level Again!

Ultra Tech says that machines producing neutrinos can be made compact at high realistic tech levels, but detecting them will always require enormous mass with a mention of modern devices containing several hundred thousand gallons of cleaning liquid.
How small do the physics allow though? Is there a theoretical limit?
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:36 AM   #7
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Default Re: Real Life Races Ahead of the Tech Level Again!

The trick to detecting neutrinos lies in the need to filter out everything else. It's a bit like Sherlock Holmes' famous maxim: once you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, however unlikely, must be so. In this case, once you have a detector that is effectively shielded against most forms of radiation, whatever gets through that shielding must be a neutrino.

So the minimum size needed to detect neutrinos is based on how much shielding is needed to block everything else out. Barring superscience, the only way to block the other kinds of radiation is by adding mass. Conversely, a setting that has lightweight force fields that can substitute for tons of radiation shielding could easily build a lightweight neutrino detector, as long as the force field itself doesn't interfere (either by introducing noise that swamps the signal or by blocking out the neutrinos).
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:57 AM   #8
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The trick to detecting neutrinos lies in the need to filter out everything else. .
I don't think so. The trick to detecting neutrinos is to interact with them in the first place. Neutrinos are such low power particles that they tend to move right past things without interacting with them. And if they don't interact with anything, they can't be detected.
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:44 AM   #9
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That doesn't contradict what I said. The difficulty of getting "positive hits" from neutrinos can be addressed by turning up the intensity of the neutrino beam; so if the only issue was the difficulty of detecting neutrinos, there wouldn't be a "several tons" lower limit on the detector's size.

The problem for modern neutrino detectors is two-fold: first, the usual source that they're set up to detect (i.e., neutrinos coming from the Sun) is not one that we can control the intensity of; so we have to build the detector with a faint signal strength in mind. Using a particle accelerator as your neutrino source potentially eliminates that concern, the same way a laser can be brighter than sunlight.

But second, there's the matter of the "false positives": a neutrino detector works by detecting flashes of radiation in a pool of water; we know that those flashes are caused by neutrinos because everything else has been blocked out, not because of anything about those flashes of radiation that inherently says "neutrino". As such, you need to reduce the level of noise (i.e., flashes of radiation caused by particles other than neutrinos) to the point that you can make out the signal. And barring a very strong neutrino signal, you need to take extraordinary measures to cut down on the noise from non-neutrino sources thus the need for so much shielding.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Using a particle accelerator as your neutrino source potentially eliminates that concern, the same way a laser can be brighter than sunlight.
The energy consumption of your neutrino source may become impractically large. I did the sums recently for detecting nuclear submarines by their neutrino emissions. 50MW of decay heat in a reactor raises the neutrino flux at 1000 metres by about 1% of the solar flux - which is not small, it's just that the probability of interaction is really low.

And neutrinos obey the inverse-square law. I think a 400lb device for two-way communication at 100,000 miles still has its ^.
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