24hoursnews :The UK's GridPP project is taking the lead in the LHC@home project, which uses spare computing power on people's PCs to analyse data about the Cern particle accelerator.
LHC@home, a project that lets the public donate spare computing power to Cern scientists, has moved from its Geneva home to the GridPP project at Queen Mary, University of London.
The distributed computing project uses volunteers' desktop machines to help run simulations of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), to ensure that protons travelling the 27 kilometre circuit stay in their orbits. The LHC is set to start operations at Cern next year, and is being used to search for evidence of the Higgs particle, by recreating the conditions of the universe just after the Big Bang.
"Like its larger cousin, SETI@home, LHC@home uses the spare computing power on people's desks," said Dr Alex Owen, who runs the project in the UK. "But rather than searching for aliens, LHC@home models the progress of sub-atomic particles traveling at nearly the speed of light around Europe's newest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)."
So far, over 40,000 people from 100 countries have run LHC@home, contributing what would equal 3,000 years computing on a single machine. The programme is baesd on the BOINC platform, which also runs the Search for Extraterristrial Intelligence (SETI) project, as well as distributed computing projects for modelling climate change and the spread of disesases.
"We started trial running LHC@home from a computer server in the UK in June, and have spent the last few months working with the physicists who use the data it produces. Now, with the official launch of the UK base for the project, we're ready to fully exploit this fantastic resource," said Neasan O'Neill of GridPP.
The programme will eventually be used for other particle physics research, such as modelling the operations of different parts of the particle detectors. The actual processing of the expected 15 million gigabytes of data that the LHC will produce annually will be handled by a grid computing network built by 17 universities and research centres across the UK.