News / Science & Technology

Scientists Send Text Message Using Vodka

File - At a Kvint store, a saleswoman shows a vodka bottle. Scientists have used the spirit to send a text message (Vera Undritz for VOA)File - At a Kvint store, a saleswoman shows a vodka bottle. Scientists have used the spirit to send a text message (Vera Undritz for VOA)
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File - At a Kvint store, a saleswoman shows a vodka bottle. Scientists have used the spirit to send a text message (Vera Undritz for VOA)
File - At a Kvint store, a saleswoman shows a vodka bottle. Scientists have used the spirit to send a text message (Vera Undritz for VOA)
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VOA News
Drunk texting has a new meaning.

Scientists at York University in Canada say they’ve successfully sent a text message, “O Canada,” using evaporated vodka. They say the system could one day fill gaps where wireless technology fails.

“Chemical signals can offer a more efficient way of transmitting data inside tunnels, pipelines or deep underground structures. For example, the recent massive clog in the London sewer system could have been detected earlier on, and without all the mess workers had to deal with by sending robots equipped with a molecular communication system,” said Professor Andrew Eckford of York University.

The chemical signal, using the alcohol in vodka, was sent four meters across the lab with the aid of a tabletop fan. It was then extracted by a receiver that measured the rate of change in concentration of the alcohol molecules, picking up whether the concentration was increasing or decreasing.

“We believe we have sent the world’s first text message to be transmitted entirely with molecular communication, controlling concentration levels of the alcohol molecules to encode the alphabet, with single spray representing bits and no spray representing the bit zero,” says York University doctoral candidate Nariman Farsad, who led the experiment.

Though use of chemical signals is a new method in human communication technology, the bio-compatible method is very common in the animal kingdom. Bees, for example, use chemicals in pheromones when there is a threat to the hive, and so does the Canadian lnyx when marking its territory.

The researchers’ article, “Tabletop Molecular Communication: Text Messages Through Chemical Signals," appears in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE.

A previous version of this story incorrectly identified York University as located in England. VOA regrets the error.

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by: Isaac from: Toronto
January 02, 2014 1:55 PM
Noted that assumption was made previously that York University was in England. Would it not be correct to check its location before publication? Furthermore, would you mention a US University as follows: Insert name of University, in the United States or would you name the city and state or both? Canada is a very large country with many universities. York is in Toronto.
Why not state that rather than "York University in Canada". You had that opportunity when you corrected the error regarding it being in England but missed it.


by: Paul from: Alabama
December 22, 2013 2:37 PM
Well we have it! One up on American Indian smoke signals with automated reading of the results. Sorry guys this isn't anything new. Fun yes but great science?

In Response

by: MB from: California
December 24, 2013 5:01 PM
LOL I was just thinking the same thing . . . how is this any different than smoke signals or Morse code? Come on, guys, stop getting your science ideas from the Boy Scout manual (just kidding).

Fun experiment, though.


by: tambi peter tambi from: mamfe CAMEROON
December 20, 2013 4:13 AM
i wish i could always received mails from Ur in order to know the type of malaria drugs to use

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