Thursday, January 24, 2008

Epic Poem Needed About World Wide Physics Experiment Collaborations

ATLAS is a particle physics experiment that will explore the fundamental nature of matter and the basic forces that shape our universe. Starting in mid-2008, the ATLAS detector will search for new discoveries in the head-on collisions of protons ofø extraordinarily high energy. ATLAS is one of the largest collaborative efforts ever attempted in the physical sciences. There are 2100 physicists (Including 450 students) participating from more than 167 universities and laboratories in 37 countries.

The protons will be accelerated in the Large Hadron Collider, an underground accelerator ring 27 kilometres in circumference at the CERN Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. The particle beams are steered to collide in the middle of the ATLAS detector. The debris of the collisions reveal fundamental particle processes. The energy density in these high energy collisions is similar to the particle collision energy in the early universe less than a billionth of a second after the Big Bang.

Does the world know about this thing, this effort? This collaboration between nations to dig into the guts of reality? I think I need to write an epic poem..

Example of engineering:


"All the toroid magnets are superconducting in order to allow a large magnetic field without too much particle–stopping mass or wallet–busting energy consumption. To achieve superconductivity, each magnet needs to be cooled to a freezing -269°C, just 4.2 degrees above absolute zero (using liquid helium). Each needs to be maintained in a good vacuum for optimal working conditions. The main parts of the magnet are called the “cold mass” and weigh about 120 tonnes, and are about 10m across. The large magnetic forces (many hundreds of tonnes) acting, mean that careful design and analysis are required to ensure that fractures do not occur when the magnet is turned on.

It is the last magnet being tested on ATLAS before nominal operation, so this is a major milestone,” says Arnaud Foussat, one of CERN’s magnet engineers. The end–cap toroid magnets were installed in the experimental cavern in the summer of 2007. The ATLAS engineers worked hard during October to cool the magnets to -269°C. The cooling process took five weeks because the magnets are so large."

Take a tour:

Latest test:

"Once ATLAS is up and running, real data will be fed out to the Grid and spread all over the world for permanent storage and analysis. The Grid is a global network of computers which, in the same way that the Internet is used to share information, will be used to share computing power and data storage capacity. ATLAS needs to use the Grid because of the sheer volume of data that will be recorded, and the immense amount of computing power that will be required to process it.

Initially, the CERN computing centre, known as Tier 0, will farm out data to ten scientific institutes and laboratories across the globe, known as Tier 1 centres. These will subsequently distribute it amongst local ‘clouds’ of Tier 2 centres — mainly academic institutions — associated with them. Between them, these three Tiers will reconstruct the data to build up a picture of the trajectories and energies of individual particles recorded by the detector, and analyse them to try to gain an understanding of what happened during the proton collision.


When the LHC starts we want to analyse the data within a few days. We want a very quick feedback to see what’s good, what the problems were, if there’s any new physics, if there’s anything really exciting in there,” said Charlton. “To do that we must make sure this whole system works; that we can get the data out to people where they can look at it very quickly.”

So, even when hungry, angry, fulfilling one's curiousity can be a big healing process. Getting outside your own troubles and seeing the world can be cleansing. Maybe for the world?

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