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Content about Physics

May 21, 2014

This year’s International Supercomputing Conference (ISC’14) in Leipzig, Germany, is now just one month away. iSGTW speaks to Niko Neufeld ahead of his talk at the event, ‘The Boson in the Haystack’, which will take place during the session on ‘Emerging Trends for Big Data in HPC’ on Wednesday 25 June.

December 18, 2013

Once fully operational, the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope could produce data at a rate more than 100 times greater than current global internet traffic. Successful handling of this unparalleled data deluge will be key to the project's ability to find answers to some of the most complex puzzles in astronomy.

October 9, 2013

Image courtesy Maximilien Brice/CERN.

September 11, 2013

The AEGIS experiment needs you! Discover how you can help analyse experimental results to figure out how antimatter is affected by gravity.

February 2, 2011

A "Grid Job Failure" can throw a wrench in the best-laid plans. But the grid submission tool technical team can help.

December 8, 2010

iSGTW reader Harvey Newman gives his perspective on SC10.

December 1, 2010

At a recent workshop, physicists from several LHC experiments compared results.

November 17, 2010

Feature - Life at the extreme at the Pierre Auger Observatory The Pierre Auger Observatory has a detection area of 3,000 km², so large that it is best seen by airplane. A space-based sucessor with a detection area hundreds of times greater is already being planned: the JEM-EUSO will be attached to the International Space Station in 2013. It will use large volumes of the earth’s atmosphere to detect and observe particles colliding with planet’s magnetic field. All images courtesy Pierre Auger Observatory Some people enjoy living life at the edge, such as participants in extreme sports. At the other extreme are those who relish watching rare events.Among the latter are astronomers at the Pierre Auger Observatory, a multi-national collaboration to detect the 'light-signature' given off as these cosmic rays hit particles in our atmosphere. Based in Argentina, the observatory monitors ultra-high energy cosmic rays —  spectacular examples of some of nature

November 17, 2010

Image of the Week - Elegance of darkness When galaxies collide. Original courtesy Argonne National Laboratory What you see is the collision of two galaxies over billions of years, albeit virtually. As physicists at CERN investigate the smallest particles in the universe, US scientists are studying the behavior of the largest cosmic structures in existence. A team at the University of Chicago Flash Center and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics used an Argonne National Laboratory Supercomputer to identify elusive dark matter. The researchers simulated the motion and collision of galactic clusters — some of the largest structures in the universe — to infer dark matter’s influence, as it cannot be observed directly. Dark matter greatly influences gas and galaxies over trillions of light years.  Furthermore, these collisions more accurately predict the interaction of both normal and dark matter (it is thought dark matter constitu

November 3, 2010

Feature - LHC open to all

An actual recorded event from the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment—this event shows radiation and charged particles spilling into the detector from the beam colliding with material in the beam pipe.
Image courtesy Carl Lundstedt

Occasionally, iSGTW runs across stories in other publications related to the fields we cover. Below is an excerpt from Linux Journal, containing one person’s view of the whole process.
One of the items at the heart of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments is open-source software. The following will provide a glimpse into how scientific computing embraces open-source software and its open-source philosophy.
The LHC at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, is nearly 100 meters underground and produces the highest-energy subatomic particle beams on Earth. The Compact Muon Solenoid experiment is one of the many collider experiments within the LHC. One of its goals is to give physicists a window into the universe fractions

November 3, 2010

Feature - Ultra-fast networks: The Final Frontier A network researcher in awe of the billions of dark matter particles simulated on 15 ultra-high definition monitors. Image courtesy Freek Dijkstra Researchers from Holland have demonstrated a network infrastructure that could potentially help scientists save time and even transform the movie business. This could be done without the need for large computer clusters or grids, just off-the-shelf hardware components combined with human ingenuity and one of the world’s fastest research networks. The team were from SARA, a Dutch supercomputing and e-science support center. Threshold The SARA researchers wanted to show the practicalities of streaming video between two institutions (from SARA, Amsterdam to CERN, Geneva) at 40Gb/second (5GB/s). This link, if successful, would be 16 times faster than the TEIN3 network, which streamed Malaysian dancers over 9,000 kilometers away to a live orchestra performance in Stockholm at 2.5 Gb/s. Th

October 27, 2010

Feature - Theorists find dark matter evidence in open data

A visualization of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Image courtesy of NASA and General Dynamics.

Dan Hooper and Lisa Goodenough are not part of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope collaboration. But by using FGST’s publicly released data, they were able to find clues to some of the universe’s juiciest secrets at the center of the Milky Way.
In their analysis, Hooper, a Fermilab theorist, and Goodenough, a graduate student at New York University, report that very-high-energy gamma rays coming from the center of the Milky Way originate from dark-matter collisions.
“We went out of our way to consider all causes of backgrounds that mimic the signal, and we found no other plausible astrophysics sources or mechanics that can produce a signal like this,” Hooper said.
A recent paper, published on the pre-print server arXiv, outlines their findings.
Astrophysicists have long postulated a wide range of

October 20, 2010

Announcement - CERN Latin-American School of High Energy Physics, Natal, Brazil, 23-25 April 2011

Photo courtesy CERN

The CERN Latin-American School of High-Energy Physics is encouraging experimental high-energy physics students, who are also in the final years of their PhDs, to apply. Masters and post-doctoral students are also welcome to the course. There are a limited number of places so an early application is advisable. Please be aware that prior knowledge of high-energy physics is required in order to fully benefit from the programme.
The school is being organized jointly by the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), Geneva, Switzerland; CIEMAT, Research Organization of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science and a team of local organizers from institutes in Brazil.
Successful applicants will be housed in the Hotel Porto do Mar, which provides conference facilities for lectures and discussion sessions. The hotel also has sports and leisure facilities that will be

October 20, 2010

Announcement - New European Petaflop supercomputer available in 2011

Photo courtesy PRACE

In 2011, the 1.6 Petaflop French supercomputer, Curie, will be installed and available for use. Powered by more than 90,000 processor cores, it will be exclusively dedicated to European research and available for all fields of science, including high-energy and plasma physics, climatology and much more.
“It is crucial to have high computing power to simulate, with the most possible realism, the past of our climate, the current conditions and its future evolution according to various scenarios,” said Jean Jouzel, vice-president of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
Scientists and engineers will also be able to use Curie’s simulations to explore the properties of various materials, improve aircraft and car construction, design better drugs, understand the intricate molecular functions of the human body and conduct simulations that are impractical in reality.

October 20, 2010

Feature - New physics in space

A C5 Supergalaxy, one of the world’s largest planes, loading the AMS-02 experiment at Geneva Airport. Image courtesy CERN Bulletin

New life was breathed into the International Space Station (ISS) this year after NASA announced it will extend the ISS from 2015 to at least 2020.The new deadline extends opportunities for science experimentation in the largest space research laboratory ever constructed. One of these experiments is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02), a detector that may help scientists understand why our universe exists and why there is more matter than anti-matter.Most space-grade electronics are about ten years old, so the AMS-02 represents the newest and most advanced physics experiment in outer space to date. Currently, it is being tested and due to launch in February 2011. AMS-02 was shipped via Geneva airport to NASA this August in one of the largest planes in the world, a US Air Force C5 Super Galaxy.Once aboard the ISS, A

October 20, 2010


Link of the Week - Nobel Prize follows Ig Nobel

Artist's impression of a graphene transistor. Image courtesy physorg

A first has just occurred in the world of Nobel Prize awards: Andre Geim, a Russian-born physicist, who was previously awarded an Ig Nobel for using magnets to levitate a frog, received a Nobel Prize in Physics for his experiments on a 2-D substance called ‘graphene.’ Graphene, which is one-atom thick and entirely made from carbon, comes from the ‘lead’ in a pencil.
The substance is made up of a handful of atoms in a honeycomb lattice, akin to atomic scale chicken wire. At this scale,  its properties truly shine as Andre and his team discovered that the material conducts electricity 100 times faster than silicon. Possible future applications of this material could be for the creation of ultra-fast transistors for the next generation of computers, electronics, smart displays and quantum-dot computers.

October 6, 2010

Announcement - Registration open, Computing and Astroparticle Physics-ASPERA, Lyon, France

Photo courtesy ASPERA

Registration is now open for Computing and Astroparticle Physics-ASPERA, to be hold in Lyon, France from 07 October to 08 October 2010.
Astroparticle Physics has grown in a few years from a field of a few charismatic pioneers transgressing interdisciplinary frontiers to a global science activity projecting very large infrastructures involving hundreds of researchers each. In particular, the large infrastructures proposed in the ASPERA Roadmap will face challenging problems of data collection, data storage and data mining. In some of these, the cost of computing will be a significant fraction of the cost of the infrastructure and the issues of model of computation, data mining complexity and public access will be extremely challenging.
In the Lyon workshop these issues will be addressed, along with data storage and analysis models developed in neighboring fields such as part

October 6, 2010

Image of the Week - Death of a star

Ever wonder what the collapse of an inspiralling neutron-star binary looks like? Now you can see one rendtion, in this vizualization. For more information, click here.
Copyright: Ralf Kähler (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics/Zuse Institute Berlin) Numerical Simulation: Bruno Giacomazzo, Luciano Rezzolla (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics). Used with permission.

August 25, 2010

Announcement - Workshop on discovery physics at the LHC, Kruger National Park, South Africa

South Africa’s oldest national park is famous for its large populations of the “Big Five” large mammals — 1,500 lion, 12,000 elephant, 2,500 buffalo, 1,000 leopards and 5,000 rhino. Image courtesy Kruger National Park

The early registration deadline is 31 August for Kruger 2010: Workshop on Discovery Physics at the LHC, to be held at the Protea Hotel Kruger Gate, Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa.
The workshop itself will be held 5-10 December, where it will include discussions on the latest Monte Carlo tools, cross-section calculations for signal and background processes to higher orders, as well as strategies for new physics searches are expected.
The status of the CERN Large Hadron Collider,along with first measurements from the LHCexperiments, will also be presented.
Amidst the surroundings of one of the worldʼs largest national parks, the physi

August 25, 2010

Website of the Week - “. . . where physics and life collide”

The “no exploding cars” sign on Route Rutherford at CERN. (Presumably, it forbids vehicles of 30 tons or more from carrying inflammable loads.) Image courtesy

Face it, few physics, engineering or computing institutions resemble the fictional setting of “Angels and Demons,” in which marble-columned, ivy-covered, red-brick buildings placed upon rolling green lawns represent the geometrically symmetrical  grounds of a well-known physics research center.
In our experience, most such facilities bear more resemblance to the labyrinth of an eternal construction site — a style in which they seem to take a perverse pride. (Ever see the MIT Campus Subterranean Map?)
Consequently, in CERN’s case, visitors find themselves wondering why Building 58 is between Building 3 and Building 4.
Or why there is a viewing platform atop a water tower with a permanently locked

August 11, 2010

Feature - The sky’s the limit

Image courtesy Simon Langton Grammar School

Becky Parker, head of physics at the Simon Langton Grammar School in Kent, UK, is introducing her students to outer space. In 2007, Becky organized a trip to CERN for her 16 to 18 year-old students. There, they were introduced to the Timepix computer chip, a sensitive light-detector used for medical imaging. Back in Britain, one of her students came up with the idea of using the chips to measure cosmic radiation. Parker’s response: “Brilliant!” A Timepix chip has 65,536 pixels over a 2 cm² area. An event occurs when a particle strikes a pixel and is converted into an electrical signal, which can be measured. Her students wanted to use Timepix chips to detect particle type, energy and possibly, the directionality.Consequently, her students entered and won a space experiment competition with their design made from adapting readouts of the chip. Their instrument, called LUCID (Langton

July 14, 2010

Feature: Fruitfly + flight studies + grid = flying robots?

The GUI pre-processor used to generate the geometry of the fly wings. (Click on image to enlarge.) All images courtesy Diego Scardaci, INFN

The study of the flight of a fruit fly may one day lead to the development of autonomous ‘Micro-air vehicles’ (MAVs), or independent ‘flying robots,’  if scientists in Argentina have their way.
Working in conjunction with the Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) under the EELA-2 initiative, they are conducting the study to understand the flight mechanisms of insects and small birds. Their hope is that someday, 'flying robots' could be developed with maneuvering capabilities similar to insects — the most agile flying creatures on Earth.
MAVs could be used to study and explore places that are too dangerous or inhospitable for humans to tread; examples include search-and-rescue teams exploring buildings to detect fires, or scientists investiga

June 30, 2010

Image - The New Yorker’s take on the LHC

The New Yorker magazine is famous for its journalism — and its cartoons. Above is their view of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. When asked for comment, the CERN press office said “CERN has a sense of humor, and the fact that we’re the subject of humor in The New Yorker is great news!!” (Click on image above to see larger version.)
© Roz Chast/The New Yorker Collection/ Reprinted with permission.

June 23, 2010

Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?

Anyone who has seen the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey remembers the phrase “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?” While it looks similarly futuristic, ATLAS (above) is the setting for something completely different — the ‘Dave’ dataset. Photo courtesy CERN

What is 45 days old, has visited 22 countries and already has close to 500 children but will outlive them all?
Dave the ATLAS dataset.
Born on the 30th of March, 2010 to his proud parents, the ATLAS detector and the LHC, Dave weighed in at just over 3 Terabytes. Very soon after that, he was sent to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) grid operations center,  and the team there have been tracking his progress through the grid world ever since.Dave is the result of accelerating two beams of protons in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and colliding them in the center of the ATLAS detector.
He is a selection of the collisions chosen by

June 16, 2010

#photos { margin:0 auto !important; } .panel { background: #666 !important; text-align: center; } .panel img { margin: 0 auto; } .panel-overlay { height:20px; } .panel-overlay p { padding:10px 5px 10px 0; text-align:left; font-size:12pt; } --> $(document).ready(function(){ $('#photos').galleryView({ panel_width: 500, panel_height: 640, frame_width: 100, frame_height: 75, transition_speed: 800, transition_interval: 10000, background_color: '#000', pause_on_hover: true, filmstrip_position: 'bottom', overlay_position: 'bottom', overlay_height: 40 }); }); Image of the Week - A child’s-eye view of physicists Image 1 of 10 Image 2 of 10 Image 3 of 10