Trinity College researchers tackle Big Bang data

9 Sep 2008

Large Hadron Collider video

Tomorrow, physicists at the CERN research institute in Switzerland will have a smashing time with photons, gluons, leptons and even various flavours of quarks colliding at an enormous speeds in the hope that it will shed some light on the Standard Model of particle physics – if the Higgs Boson or ‘God Particle’ can be created in this way we should be able to understand why mass is what it is.

One side effect (no, not the world ending) of this experiment is that vast quantities of data will be created and will need analysing. So when CERN scientists finish recreating the post Big Bang atmosphere, a global effort will begin to process this raw data.

Researchers in the Computer Architecture and Grid Research group in Trinity College Dublin’s (TCD) school of Computer Science and Statistics will take part in this giant grid of connected computers.

In fact, TCD has been involved in this grid of research machines since the early days and its Grid-Ireland computer room has 768 processors and over 130TBs of hard-disk space. Right now, these resources are being used to crunch numbers from ATLAS and LHCb, two of the experiments being conducted at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in CERN.

So far, these computers have carried out 300,000 hours of data processing, which has obviously contributed greatly to LHC research.

“There are three main benefits to our involvement with the LHC. Firstly, we are making a valuable contribution towards this significant global experiment,” said Dr Stephen Childs, deputy grid manager for Grid-Ireland at TCD.

“Secondly, we can directly support Irish scientists working to analyse LHC data. Thirdly, we are gaining valuable experience with grid technology, which we can then pass on to Irish researchers from all disciplines”.

By Marie Boran

Pictured: the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which is set to go live on Wednesday 10 September 2008

Large Hadron Collider video