Tag: cern

Cern boffins stage human sacrifice to Kali

MURDER_AT_CERN_-_DISTURBING_HUMAN_SACRIFICE_VIDEO_SURFACES_-_YouTube_Bosses at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) are not amused as a video has tipped up showing staff conducting a mock ritual human sacrifice to the goddess Kali.

The video includes the staged “stabbing” of a woman. It is filmed from the perspective of a secret viewer watching from a window above who, as the ceremony reaches its climax, lets out a string of expletives and flees with the camera still running.

The video, which circulated online, shows several individuals in black cloaks gathering in a main square at Europe’s top physics lab.

The statue of the Hindu deity Shiva is on permanent display at the complex, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

A Cern spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse that the scenes were filmed on its premises but without official permission or knowledge.

“Cern does not condone this type of spoof, which can give rise to misunderstandings about the scientific nature of our work.”

The “investigation” under way was an “internal matter”,  she said.

Those responsible for the prank had access badges.  But at the end of the day, boffins have a weird sense of humour.

Geneva police told AFP they had been in contact with Cern about the video but were not involved in an official investigation.

Cern hosts machinery carrying out some of the world’s most elaborate particle research, including an enormously powerful proton smasher trying to find previously undiscovered particles.

Kali was not available for comment, but everyone knows she does not want her sacrifices stabbed and the ritual needs to be conducted in a grave yard. Plus it is men who are sacrificed to her – never women.

CERN considers cloud-based number crunching

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) is partnering with Rackspace to do some epic number crunching on the cloud.

CERN and Rackspace are building a hybrid cloud built atop OpenStack, an open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform.

The platform was originally developed by Rackspace as part of a joint effort with NASA. OpenStack is fast becoming the tool that the likes of HP and IBM use to expand their cloud portfolios.

Under the deal Rackspace will fund one full-time CERN member which will also help to push its street cred considerably.

Tim Bell, leader of CERN’s OIS Group IT department said that CERN and Rackspace will initially focus on simulations.

This involves putting into place the theory and then working out what a particle collision will have to look like.

Bell said that there will be investigations into using the cloud for data analysis in the future but there is no timeframe for it at the moment.

So far, the experiences running between the two data centres in Geneva and Budapest gave CERN early indications of the challenges of the more data intensive work, he said.

CERN’s physicists write their own research and analytics software, using a combination of C++ and Python running atop Linux.

Complex physics frameworks and the fundamental nature of the research makes it difficult to use off-the-shelf [software] packages, he said.

The outcomes of the collaboration will help everyone involved better understand the workloads that can be placed on the public cloud.

CERN’s private cloud will use 15,000 hypervisors and 150,000 virtual machines by 2015. It is fairly likely that any public cloud will likely need to handle similarly massive loads with a minimum of latency.

By running small tests with a variety of public-cloud providers, CERN can determine how to best distribute workloads, puzzle out those latency questions, and eventually take on some of its more serious number crunching. 

Cern discovers 'God Particle'

After decades of searching, scientists have finally claimed to have located the elusive Higgs boson – the ‘God particle’.

Researchers working at the Large Hadron Collider at the Cern facility reckon they have pinpointed the elusive particle that is a major piece of the puzzle in the understanding how the universe is put together.

While it will take more time to put the discovery away from any doubt, the chances of being wrong are in the millions to one – after two independent teams showed that they had come up with similar results after months of tests.  

It was discovered that the Higgs boson had been hiding out in the 126 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) mass region, the particle physics equivalent of right at the back of the sofa behind the two pence coins.

The Higgs boson, first hypothesised back in the 1960s by Peter Higgs, is fundamental in tying together the known universe into matter by giving it mass. At the press conference Higgs said the discovery is “really the most incredible thing” that happened in his lifetime.

The Higgs particle is formed as part of the Higgs field, essentially a treacle like substance that can slow down the particles which make up the universe, and stop them pinging around at light speed.  

This makes the discovery important as the Higgs boson is the reason why any matter is formed, from electrons to Scrumpy Jack to Ziggy from Big Brother 8.

The discovery is more of an affirmation of what was already thought rather than a new take on the universe. In fact, some scientists have even claimed that not finding the Higgs would be more interesting as it would subvert large parts of what had been presumed about the universe.

However, aside from confirming what has been assumed as the Standard Model, the discovery could also open the door for more discoveries about how the universe was created, with the Higgs boson as one of the most fundamental building blocks.

According to Professor Jim Al-Khalili, the work done on the Higgs boson could support further work at the LHC into the nature of dark matter – another long-standing mystery which the world may now be closer to understanding.

Data transfer record broken at 186 gigabits per second

A new two way network data transfer rate record has been set, reaching speeds of 186 gigabits per second to help work through piles of data spewing out of the Large Hadron Collider.

Researchers at Caltech, University of Michigan, the God-particle botherers at CERN and others all teamed up to push the limits of the amount of information that can be transferred in a wide area network.

The computer scientists now reckon that extremely large quantities of information can be crammed down optical fibres and sent across the world from continent to continent.  The speeds hit by the boffins is apparently equivalent to moving two million gigabytes per day.

It is now expected that new networks can be built to use the technology in the next couple of years, likely within the region of 40 to 100 Gbps.  

The two way connection, both reaching 88 Gbps to create a combined 186 Gpbs, sent data from 10 Dell servers from British Columbia and Seattle using an optical network.   This broke the previous record, also set by the team, which hit 119 Gbps back in 2009.

To show the globe spanning potential of the high speed data network, information was also sent to Brazilian and Korean institutes.

The network will come in handy helping work through the staggering amount of data coming from the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN facility, where boffins are currently trying to work through data that has indicated the presence of the Higgs boson.

So far more than 100 petabytes of info has been processed, which amounts to a Blockbusters-beating 100 milllion Blu-ray disks, and that is only thought to be the start as LHC scientists smash even more particles together.

Now, scientists in labs across the world will be able to get their hands on data to solve mysteries of the universe without having to watch a download bar run as swiftly as an MP3 on a dial up connection.

Petascale particle physics data can be sent to anywhere in the world in just a couple of hours.


Oxford Uni puts the Large Hadron Collider into Android

While the elusive Higgs Boson hasn’t been found just yet, the University of Oxford is giving Android users the opportunity to explore the Large Hadron Collider on their phones.

With a new app called LHSee, you can explore three dimensional diagrams of the LHC and poke about one of the most talked-about scientific structures ever. This particular project has been funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

The Large Hadron Collider isn’t simply an opportunity for an easy and amusing anagram. No, it has the potential to unearth some of the most significant scientific developments mankind has ever seen, or so goes the hype. Peaches Geldof explains it here but for a more in depth and accurate look, it’s worth checking out the app website here

We’ve had a go on it, and we have to say it’s not the easiest concept to get your head around – the app is packed full of so much information it’s a little bit overwhelming – but we are dealing with the creation of the universe here, so it’s kind of expected. 

The team at Oxford, which built the app, has included a shed load of educational resources as well as the ability to view individual collisions in 3D reminiscent of Elite. We have to say, the bundled “Hunt the Higgs” game isn’t quite as compelling as Angry Birds. But that’s edutainment.

Dr Alan Barr of the University of Oxford said in a statement: “It’s amazing to see that you can pick out the different individual proton collisions”. 

You can download the app for free on the Android market place now, here

Scientists put antimatter on standby for over 16 minutes

Star Trek-style interstellar travel edged a step closer with the news that CERN scientists have trapped antimatter particles for over 16 minutes.

Antimatter has been baffling scientists for some time as they have attempted to work out why antimatter such as antihydrogen, which is made up of a negatively charged antiproton in the nucleus and a “bound, positively charged antielectron”, is not present in the visible universe.

It is thought that it should have been produced in equal amounts to matter during the Big Bang, however there is no evidence of antimatter galaxies, with the elusive material only visible for fleeting moments.

And this is what makes the ability to control its production by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, such a fascinating prospect.

According to researchers, antihydrogen atoms are becoming trapped on an increasingly frequent basis, and the researcher team has now managed to hold the antimatter particles for such a time that they believe it will be possible to begin experimenting with it.

It is not the first that antimatter particles have been created, but the amount of time that they have been trapped is significant, increasing the time from just a few seconds to over quarter of an hour, or “forever” in terms of particle physics, says one of the scientists.

Joel Fajans, a UC Berkeley professor and member of the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (ALPHA) experiment at CERN, is now hoping that by next year continued experimentation will enable “laser access to allow spectroscopic experiments on the antiatoms”.

The team were able to trap 112 antiatoms for times ranging from a fifth of a second up to 16 minutes and 40 seconds, so still a while off joining Captain Kirk and his crew on an intergalactic jolly, it is a remarkable development nonetheless.

Also highly significant is that during the experiments it was possible to capture an antiatom in almost every attempt made, with the scientists claiming that between 10-30 minutes is sufficient time for most experiments.

Antimatter has so far been difficult to create for more than small amounts of time, with one reason being that it is difficult to contain.

The scientists were able to hold the antihydrogen cocktail by mixing antielectrons and positrons in a “bottle” in a vacuum chamber using the magnetic properties of the antiatoms to keep them contained.

“The developments are mostly in understanding the early universe,” said Mark Lancaster, a particle physics professor at University College London.

“That said anti-matter is already used routinely for medical and material imaging. The same technique of using nuclear isotopes is used to produce positrons that annihilate with electrons in the body and the resulting gamma rays can be detected to image the body in a process known as positron-emission-tomography (PET). Most hospitals now have PET scanners.”

Unfortunately, professor Lancaster dampened our hopes of fuelling long distance space flights.

“Anti-matter is also being contemplated as a fuel for powering space probes,” he said, “although at present the inherent inefficiency in producing sufficient anti-matter makes this prohibitively expensive and time consuming.”

A normal bottle, even a can holding the universe’s second most volatile material – Special Brew – would immediately implode as ordinary matter and antimatter would annihilate each other.

'God particle' claims denounced as fake by scientist community

Rumours have been spreading that scientists at the Large Hadron Collider facility may have now found the elusive Higgs Boson ‘God Particle’.

But while the Easter weekend is undoubtedly famous for certain surprise appearances, it seems that the theoretical particle which is the target of the ATLAS experiment may still be out of reach.

An abstract of a paper was apparently leaked on physicist Peter Woits’s ‘Not Even Wrong’ blog stated that the particle, which has been sought after since being hypothesised in the sixties leading to the 17 mile facitlity being built, had now been detected.

If found the particle will be the final piece of a 17 part jigsaw which forms what is regarded to be the theory of everything in the world of physics.

Apparently the note’s authors caught evidence of a Higgs particle decaying into two high-energy photons at a significantly higher rate than had previously been predicted, with the note stating that “The present result is the first definitive observation of physics beyond the standard model.”

However it seems that we should neither be jumping for joy at the discovery, or indeed cowering in fear that we have now ruptured the Geneva countryside with a world eating black hole, depending on your personal view of the Hadron Collider.

Woit admitted that the results were “the sort of thing you would expect to see if there were a Higgs at that mass”, however he had discrepancies over the number of events seen, claiming that the signal was around 30 times bigger than “the standard model would predict”, a viewpoint which has been echoed by many other scientists.

But despite widespread claims that the news could in fact just be a hoax – presumably due to the anonymous posting of supposedly conclusive proof on another scientists blog not being the most traditional way to publish major scientific findings – it appears that the paper alluded to is actually likely to be authentic, though there is little that can be drawn from it at this stage.

In fact, many scientists seem to believe that the note is a very early stage finding, which consequently means that any claims made have yet to go through vigorous rounds of peer reviewing before any announcement is made to the public.

Indeed CERN spokesman James Gillies told Wired that “It’s way, way too early to say if there’s anything in it or not.”

“The vast majority of these notes get knocked down before they ever see the light of day.”

And while it is perhaps a tad unfair to shoot down research before it is has been thoroughly examined, one scientist, Tomas Dorigo, is even offering a thousand dollar bet that the findings are indeed a fluke at best.

“I bet $1000 with whomever has a name and a reputation in particle physics (this is a necessary specification, because I need to be sure that the person taking the bet will honor it) that the signal is not due to Higgs Boson decays.”

The LHC back, and it will be televised

The Large Hadron Collider will be back smashing atoms tomorrow morning, and it will be streamed live on the web.

The operations will start again after a long delay for repair work, attempting to answer some fundamental physics questions by recreating the conditions that occurred after the Big Bang.

It will do this by colliding protons or lead ions at a very high energy, and of course, not blow up the world.

Though the destruction of the universe shouldn’t be a factor, the history of the LHC so far has been littered with accidents, often completely stopping reactor operations. This is in part due to the LHC having no ‘test runs,’ and baguettes falling from great heights.

The LHC has also suffered from careless editing at newspapers like the New York Times and the Telegraph calling it the ‘Large Hardon Collider.’

The scientists caution can be seen with the fact that the start of operations tomorrow will only run at half-maximum power until the end of 2011, and then will be switched off for a year to carry out improvements.

For those interested in scientists doing scientific stuff in control rooms, the restart of the experiment will be web streamed tomorrow morning from the CERN website. 

Obviously you can’t really film the atom smashing, but there will be step-by-step explanations of what is actually doing on, as well as commentary from the leaders of the experiments.

Large Hadron Collider to shut down, not baguette this time

The Large Hardon Collider (LHC) is to shut down at the end of 2011, just in time to cause the (speculated) end of the world by 2012.

According to reports, the atom smashing machine needs to fix design and safety issues which is stopping it from reaching its potential. Apparently, world record collisions of 7 trillion electron volts isn’t enough – the LHC needs to be made safer before collisions at about twice that level can start.

The LHC is the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator built by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), with the goal of colliding protons or lead ions at very high energy, recreating the conditions after the Big Bang. 

This will address the most fundamental questions of physics, or if you read the internet a little too closely, blow up the world.

Perhaps understandably given the cost and aim of the LHC, it has suffered various problems since protons beams were successfully sent out in September 2008. A couple of weeks later the LHC had to be halted for more than a year following an accident. 

The most infamous incident was last November, when CERN revealed that a bird dropped a bit of baguette into the machine, causing it to cut power to the collider’s cooling plants and making it overheat. 

To avoid another breach, scientists will run the machine for 18 to 24 months at half-maximum power before switching it off for a year to carry out improvements.

CERN’s director of accelerators Dr Steve Myers told the BBC: “It’s something that, with a lot more resources and with a lot more manpower and quality control, possibly could have been avoided, but I have difficulty in thinking this is something that was a design error.”

Myers said that a big problem was that the LHC was its own prototype, and things could be done once as it was already pushing the technology towards its limits.