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The neutrino messengers

In 1844 Samuel Morse sent a telegram from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore using pulses of electrons to encode “What hath God wrought.” Now that message has gotten a reply, courtesy of physicist Kevin McFarland and a team of his colleagues.

“Neutrino” was the team’s tongue-in-cheek response, broadcast in the first-ever message carried by these ghostly particles. It was supposed to be “neutrinos,” but someone goofed and cut off the “s.”

This offbeat project started with Daniel Stancil, an electrical engineer at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He’s been thinking about how to use all sorts of particles—including neutrinos and hypothetical entities called axions—to communicate over long distances.

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