by Laurianne McLaughlin

Large Hadron Collider Sends First Beam Around Tunnel

Sep 10, 20082 mins
Data Center

You can almost hear the sighs of relief all the way from deep underground Switzerland and France today, where scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) fired up their large hadron collider and successfully sent the first proton beam around what is certainly the world’s most amazing tunnel. 

As my IDG news service colleague Peter Sayer noted in a report from Paris this morning, “The LHC consists of a circular tunnel 27 kilometers long within which two beams of protons will be confined in a magnetic field and accelerated around the tunnel in opposite directions to close to the speed of light before smashing into one another.” CERN’s scientists hope to find evidence of the Higgs Boson “miracle” particle.

Several months ago, profiled how CERN scientists are dealing with the huge flow of data from the collider experiments, which will study everything from the tiniest forms of matter to the questions surrounding the Big Bang.

As Pierre Vande Vyvre, a project leader for data acquisition for CERN, told us, he had to design a storage system for one of the four experiments, ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment). It’s one of the biggest physics experiments of our time, boasting a team of more than 1,000 scientists from around the world.

For one month per year, the LHC will be spitting out project data to the ALICE team at a rate of 1GB per second. That’s 1GB per second, for a full month, “day and night,” Vande Vyvre says.

For this month, that data rate is an entire order of magnitude larger than each of the other three experiments being done with the LHC. In total, the four experiments will generate petabytes of data.

Check out the article for the whole story on how CERN is handling a truly unique storage challenge.

And for a visual and musical look at what the collider is all about, check out this YouTube clip. (Physicists who rap: Now that’s something you don’t see every day.)