CERN…Science will save us all!

I would like to begin this post with a quote from the Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett- he says “The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.”  Hopefully this will make sense once you read this post.

I had the pleasure of contributing to the DEEP NLP project for document analysis and classification at CERN in Switzerland/France. Yes, the CERN sits astride the Franco-Swiss border and here physicists and engineers are tasked with probing the fundamental structure of the universe.

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The CERN is where the Higgs Boson alias the God particle was discovered. The science of particle discovery relies mainly on are purpose-built particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before the beams are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions. According to CERN, the particles are so tiny that the task of making them collide is akin to firing two needles 10 kilometers apart with such precision that they meet halfway!!!!!

The LHC ( The Large Hadron Collider)  which is located at CERN  is the is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. The LHC consists of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way.  The LHC has a number of experiments for particle detection, the most notable ones being the ATLAS and the CMS. The ATLAS was crucial in the discovery of the Higgs Boson and the interactions in the ATLAS detectors create an enormous flow of data. The ATLAS generates ~ 1 Petabyte of data/second which is approximately four times the internet’s output.  Below is a picture inside the ATLAS control center.

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I am in awe of the science of particle discovery and the extraordinary experiments used to seek this “higher truth”. The scale and magnitude of this experiments is unprecedented, but then again extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!

A few more frames to boot:

Inside CERN’s first  particle accelerator, the Synchrocyclotron

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“Vague but exciting…”When Tim- Berners Lee submitted to his boss the proposal of an information management system which would later on become the World Wide Web, Mike Sendall(his boss) responded with “Vague, but exciting..”.The World Wide Web was invented at CERN and below is a picture of the first WWW server.

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