DCSC logo  
+Open all         -Close all

Research: A Nordic GRID of Supercomputers Participates in the Quest to Understand the Origin the Universe

A DCSC case story, provided by Professor John Renner Hansen, University of Copenhagen

In late 2008 beams of protons will collide 40 million times a second in-side the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. From this, the largest scientific instrument ever built, data will begin flowing into a GRID of international supercomputer centres. It has been designed by scientists in their quest to discover the detailed structure of the elementary particles and the fundamental interactions acting between them.

Physicists hope to find evidence for new physics, e.g. extra dimensions, super-symmetric particles and the confirmation for the Higgs boson, a particle that has never been observed, but which scientists believe is responsible for generating mass for all massive objects. Overall, the project involves 158 institutions in 35 nations at five continents.

Four large detectors, two general purpose ATLAS and CMS, and two specialized, LHCb and ALICE, will explore the LHC, with Danish participation in ATLAS and ALICE. ATLAS is constructed to discover new particles with masses up to 2000 times the mass of the proton, and to recognize small deviations from our present understanding of the world of the elementary particles, as it is described in the Standard Model. ALICE is constructed to find and measure the property of the state of matter that dominated the Universe in the era shortly after the Big Bang.

New heavy particles are rarely produced, even at the very high collision energy provided by the LHC. To find the few interesting events 40 million collisions per second are analysed and the event rate reduced to approximately one thousand per second, each event containing two Megabytes of data. If stored on ordinary DVDs, a disk would be filled every two seconds. In order to provide secure ac-cess to this gigantic amount of data, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, events will be distributed worldwide using Grid computing, and stored on more than one of the geographically distributed computing centres.

The Nordic DataGRID Facility, NDGF, connects computers and storage elements in the Nordic countries, in such a way, that physicists from around the world can access the data and use the computers in the NDGF centre in a completely trans-parent way. Similarly Danish scientists will use resources outside Denmark with-out ever being confronted with the problems of locating the resources physically. In 2010 more than 50.000 processors and several hundred thousands Gigabytes of data will be available for analysis. The Danish computer resources are pro-vided by contributions from DCSC and FNU, through NDGF.

Read more about the research: