CERN BOFH needs a bigger storage array
Networking the secrets of the universe
Preparations are well underway at CERN to commission the world's largest particle accelerator. Advances in networking technology have allowed the particle physics lab to bring in scientists from around the world to analyse the data is will generate.
When activated in May 2008 it's hoped that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will uncover evidence of the elusive Higgs boson particle, theorised as a fundamental building block for matter.
Observing signs of the particle would mark a significant milestone in formulating a Grand Unified Theory that explains the four fundamental forces in nature: electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, the weak force, and gravity. The previous collider wasn't powerful enough to peer into the energy space where Higgs boson particles are theorised to exist.
The LHC is being built 100 metres underground in a circular chamber that runs from Geneva airport out under the Jura Mountains and back, giving the collider a diameter of 27km. During commissioning parts of the accelerator were cooled to -271°C, less than two degrees from the absolute zero of temperature or colder than outer space.
Supercooled superconducting magnets in the LHC are used to accelerate beams of protons to close to the speed of light, before two beams travelling in opposite directions collide with each other around 40 million times a second.
The detectors have millions of output channels, generating data at around one million Gigabytes a second. That's way beyond the capability of existing technology to capture and store, so systems have been put in place to filter this data down into more manageable chunks. In practice, data acquisition occurs at around 100MB per second.
Enter the Matrix
Even after information is filtered to concentrate on interesting events the collider generates a phenomenal volume of data, around 15 million Gigabytes of data a year. This data is distributed from CERN to partner laboratories, from Academia Sinica in Taipei to Fermilab in Chicago, via fibre optic links.
This network (with CERN at its hub) is the backbone of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid, the largest scientific grid of its kind. At its core is a 10Gbps network that uses kit supplied by HP and Force10. The network feeds data to rack of blade servers at CERN and out through edge switches to data centres at its partners.
Anyone remember John Titor?
Can anyone remember that chap who claimed to have arrived in our time using a Marconi Time travelling machine that was effectively powered by two micro-singularities of the type we discover (willan on haven discovered) in 2008?
Processing this data requires the power of around 100,000 desktop CPUs
They need to buy a botnet, some are more then a million pc's. And you can get them for alot less money.
@Peppa Pig does elementary phyiscs
"Daddy Pig says that matter is Not made of photons. That's simplifying things in the same way that saying dinosaurs are made of felt is simplifying things. They're not. It's just completely wrong.
Matter is made of electrons, protons and neutrons."
<sigh> and here I was hoping to keep this simple.
OK - your comment is akin to me saying "my knife is made of atoms" and someone piping up and saying "no, it's stainless stell". Electrons, protons and netrons are themselves made of Quarks (if memory serves, a neutron is an Up-Up-Down triplet... can anyone check me on this). Quarks themselves are made up of... argh... I'll leave it up to you to do further research.
Funnily enough; History diagrams can be used to track a particle's path through space-time. For example, the movement of an electron forward through time can also be represented by the motion of a positron *backwards* through time. Now (here's the funny bit), if you draw a history-diagram of a photon's path, the photon going forward can also be represented by a photon going *backward* through Time... ^_^ Gave me quite a start when I read that, because it means that technically, the *entire universe* could be constructed out of one damn photon bouncing backwards and forwards throught time.
Ouch. My head hurts every time I try to image that (or try to mentally fold eight cubes into a tesseract).
Why do you think the Swiss don't drive supercars, Humvees or anything with more than 3 cylinders and have to turn their engines off at traffic lights?
Wonder if anyone's tried accelerating a cuckoo clock up to the speed of light???
I don't know why but after reading that I kept getting the impression that special relativity is just a way to explain things we have observed but still don't really know. Much in the same way we are able to build a mechanical device to predict the movement of planets from an earth centric point of view. It's wrong, but is able to predict observable facts. Sun centric is correct, but both will give you the exact time and place a planet will be in the night sky.
I have often thought relativity has the same flaws. The problem is we can't really prove it to be wrong or right - we just think it is right. Until someone actually tries to go faster than light we will never be 100% sure.
So many things have been guessed at in the last couple of decades that make me question just how accurate our 'mechanical device' (physics knowledge) is. We have dark matter, dark energy, strange matter and possibly strong and weak gravitation all to explain things we are seeing either in math or reality that do not fit with our current understanding of the universe.
It is best to keep an open mind. Do not hold religiously to our scientific beliefs because it could all be changed tomorrow with a new discovery. For all we know, we could discover there is no light speed barrier because there is no such thing as light.
@Black Holes - If such a thing could be created, it would likely evaporate into energy before it could do any harm.