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Thai floods derail Hadron-colliding antimatter boffinry

CERN experiment runs low on hard disks

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The world's hard drive shortage, caused by deadly flooding in Thailand, is holding back CERN's antimatter research, a top scientist at the boffinry nerve center said last night.

Analysis of figures spewing out of the Large Hadron Collider was compromised by a lack of storage space, said Peter Clarke, who works on the CERN LHCb experiment and is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Edinburgh.

Crunching the deluge of data coming out of the LHC experiment relies on a network of computers called the International Science Grid that stores, shares and processes the information.

Of the three key elements making up CERN's computing system, it's the storage that is holding scientists back.

"The processing power is not a limiting factor at the minute, we don't think the network will ever limit us," Clarke said during his Kelvin Lecture at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London.

"But we're crying out for storage, and the floods in Thailand didn't help. It's compromising our experiment," he explained. "We have seven petabytes of storage and it's not enough."

The CERN experiment's hardware emits a raw flow of 50 million petabytes a year. The majority of that data is discarded, reducing the wedge to 15PB, and then split between computers on the International Science Grid.

The LHCb experiment, one of four major tests running at CERN, explores the nature of matter and antimatter in an attempt to explain why mass exists. ®

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