August 11, 2011

LHC Team Looking For Help From The Public

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) team is looking to the public to help it hunt for the Higgs boson particle.

"Volunteers can now actively help physicists in the search for new fundamental particles that will provide insights into the origin of our Universe, by contributing spare computing power from their personal computers and laptops," read a statement from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research which runs the LHC.

The Worldwide Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid is a $141 million network designed to handle the flood of data and distribute it to scientists around the globe.

The computing structure is able to handle the 15 million gigabytes of data produced at LHC each year.

The new project will complement this network by splitting up the task of simulating the collisions, feeding those computer simulations back to the scientists for comparison.

"By looking for discrepancies between the simulations and the data, we are searching for any sign of disagreement between the current theories and the physical Universe," says the [email protected] 2.0 website.

"Ultimately, such a disagreement could lead us to the discovery of new phenomena, which may be associated with new fundamental principles of nature."

The team hopes to recruit as many as 50,000 volunteers for the effort.  The first stage will be to compare the volunteers' models with the results of real particle collisions detected by the LHC.

"Citizen cyberscience is a grass-roots movement which challenges the assumption that only professionals can do science'" says Pierre Spierer, Vice-Rector for Research of the University of Geneva.

"Given the right tools and incentives, and some online training, millions of enthusiastic volunteers can make a real difference, contributing to significant scientific discoveries."