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Successful test drive for particle physics mega-grid

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Physicists have trialed an international computing grid that will help probe the moments following the Big Bang. The Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid will manage data from a huge particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland, which it is hoped will answer mysteries in particle physics.

These include whether the hypothetical Higgs Boson particle, postulated as the progenitor of mass, actually exists. In 2004, bookies Ladbrokes offered odds of 6-1 that it would be proven by 2010.

The grid reached an unprecedented sustained data transfer rate during the week-long trial, breaking the 1GB per second barrier - roughly equivalent to a full DVD every five seconds. An earlier test last year managed 600 megabytes per second.

Once up and running in 2007, the Large Hadron Collider will produce 15m gigabytes of data per year.

Geneva-based CERN sent out data to 12 major academic computing centres across the globe. The UK grid received 200MB per second during the evaluation, a figure they hope to double in time for the LHC coming online. Dr Andrew Sansum of Oxford's Rutherford Appleton Lab explained: “Then we'll really be approaching the speeds we need.”®

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