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Home > iSGTW - 11 August 2010 Special Issue - Education > Newsflash - The grid makes it into The Economist

Newsflash - The grid makes it into The Economist


Paris, France. Photo courtesy ICHEP

The latest issue of The Economist had this to say about the biennial International Conference on High Energy Physics, or ICHEP, held in Paris, France, on 22-28 July:

“More striking still is the speed with which the raw data are being processed. The freshest batch emerged from the LHC on July 18th and were molded into meaningful results by July 21st, in time for the Paris conference. Not long ago this process would have taken weeks, says Fabiola Gianotti, the spokeswoman for ATLAS, one of the four main LHC experiments. One reason is the development of the grid . . .”

When ISGTW asked Markus Schulz of CERN for more about what it was like in the pre-grid era, he said: “In the early days of LEP (the Large Electron Positron collider), it was a matter of weeks for the data to be sent out to sites for analysis. Steve O’Neale used to take tapes, put them in a box, label them, and ship them over to Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (UK) and other centers by parcel post, back at the beginning of the LEP era.”

At the same time, he added, it was possible to do a first-draft analysis of the data on-site if you happened to be physcially present on the grounds of CERN — but not if you were located anywhere else. (Schulz worked at OPAL, or ‘Omni Purpose Apparatus at LEP,’ during that era.)

“Now it’s a matter of hours, and you can actually see the data get to the Tier Ones.”

Added Jamie Shiers, who worked on data management in the early days of LEP: “We do know it’s not perfect, but from the restart in March to ICHEP, it has delivered — as witnessed in Paris.”

The rest of The Economist story can be found here.

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