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CERN is recruiting the public to help it find the Higgs boson via distributed @home simulations.  (Source: Fermilab)

The tool will also be applied to helping tracking deforestation and other threats to mankind and the environment.  (Source: Google Images)
Latest @home projects look to protect the environment, save lives, and crack physics mysteries

While the accuracy of its most ambitious simulations is still is a work in progress, Stanford University's Folding@home has been a visionary project in showcasing the merits of distributed, volunteer-based supercomputing.

I. LHC Powers up With New Volunteer Computing Client

CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire -- European Council for Nuclear Research) is teaming up with United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and the University of Geneva to create an organization dubbed "Citizen Cyberscience Centre", which looks to test and deploy similar projects.

The Citizen Cyberscience Centre just yesterday released [press release] its second generation LHC@home software, whose ambitious goal is to assist scientists with locating the legendary Higgs boson and other exotic particles.

The client is available to download here.

Its concept is that while scientists have advanced physics theory that tells them how they expect systems to behave, they can't actually give a prediction of how a particular system will behave until they put that theory into a system.  With LHC@home, members of the public can install a client on their computers, which will apply their spare computing power towards simulating high-energy collisions between protons.  The results will then be compared with experimental data from real-world LHC runs to narrow the search for items of interest.

The LHC stands for "Large Hadron Collider".  The massive 17 mile (27 km) underground track on the Swiss-French border is the world's most powerful particle accelerator.  The LHC has been conducting full experimental runs during warm months since March 30, 2010, after two years of initial technical difficulties.

Professor Dave Britton of the University of Glasgow, a researcher who previously worked on the CMS LHC sensor, and currently works on the ATLAS sensor project, is a developer of cloud-based particle physics computing schemes.  While not directly affiliated with the LHC@home code, he voiced enthusiasm on the effort, which is similar to his own GridPP ( distributed particle physics effort.

He remarks, "Scientists like me are trying to answer fundamental questions about the structure and origin of the Universe. Through the Citizen Cyberscience Centre and its volunteers around the world, the Grid computing tools and techniques that I use everyday are available to scientists in developing countries, giving them access to the latest computing technology and the ability to solve the problems that they are facing, such as providing clean water. Whether you're interested in finding the Higgs boson, playing a part in humanitarian aid or advancing knowledge in developing countries, this is a great project to get involved with."

II. LHC@home Can Also be Used to Protect Forests -- and Lives

The new project will also be applied to processing satellite data from governments and private entities to protect the environment and human lives.  These applications will also draw computing resources from the LHC@home 2.0 client.

One plan involves tracking of natural disasters such as floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes.  Such a project could help aid workers locate injured people, saving lives.  It could also help people avoid imminent natural disasters.

Another potential humanitarian application is to use the data processing capabilities to locate clean drinking water.  Many regions of the world still lack reliable sources of safe-to-drink water.

Additionally, the processing power can be used to track deforestation.  This will allow international governments and environmental action organizations to assess the extent of environmental damage and loss of biodiversity.  This will allow them to better formulate plans of action to preserve our planet's natural treasures.

Describes Francesco Pisano, Manager of UNOSAT, "From a development and humanitarian perspective, the potential of citizen-powered research is enormous. Participating in the Citizen Cyberscience Centre enables us to get new insights into the cutting edge of crowdsourcing technologies. There is no doubt that volunteers are playing an increasingly central role in dealing with crisis response, thanks to the Internet."

III. Project is True Team Effort

While it may sound like the public is doing all the work on these projects, they also require a great deal of effort from CERN and its partners.  Not only do they have to develop all the software, but they also have to process the data down to a form that's digestible by the "volunteer cloud".

To that end the UK's Science & Technology Facilities Council is providing one of the world's top ten Tier 1 data centers to serving up information to LHC@home 2.0 clients.

The reward, though, of the marriage of academia, government institutions, and the public is in producing a distributed supercomputer that far exceeds the capacity of even today's most powerful stand-alone installations.

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RE: Seeking the Irrelevant
By EricMartello on 8/11/2011 6:25:05 PM , Rating: 2
Which, like the string theorists, we have no proof for nor any way to ever prove this true (as of now we can't ever hope to observe a string due to how small they are and how large photons are--though I have ideas as to how to get around that). If we are trapped in a singular, eternal moment where nothing and everything happens, then it is both immeasurable and instantaneous. It is eternal in our eyes as the flow of events happen so quickly that our "brains" are dialed up to process so rapidly that the events seem to take "time" but our perceived time is a microcosm of the moment.

The reason string theory fails is that it's arbitrary. They couldn't get it to work with 3, 4 or 5 "dimensions" so they kept adding them until they found a formula that gives them the desired result. This is bad science because it isn't making any observations, nor does it match with what we can observe. Now I will not exclude that there are multiple "dimensions" because as I have been saying, nothing and everything occur simultaneously and dimensions are certainly a possibility that is included under "everything"...but string theory as an explanation of the is not.

What is here this second, everything that is here as you insinuate, will be gone the next second and we will be left with nothing or everything--or maybe our universe will change state completely, say from a binary 0 to a binary 1.

I don't anything comes and goes. We need to make things linear or quantifiable so we can comprehend it. Absolutes and lack of limits are not things our mind can contend with.

Or perhaps it will meet an untimely demise as it comes crashing into another dimensional barrier (a dimension to us, mind you) and drench the outer walls with this splattered concoction.

Back to the scaling factor, where I said it is possible to scale infinitely from a perspective of an atom and smaller to that of a planet and you notice how space doesn't exist? The smaller the scale, the greater the apparent distance between "objects"...but nothing ever moves and the "volume" never changes.

That's as much as I can say definitively, but I would speculate that there is an "existence" where the being perceives an atom to be the relative size of a planet (as it is to us). If that were true, it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that each atom is potentially a galaxy in itself (considering the amount of energy that is released during nuclear reactions).

All in all though, if we are in a fleeting void, then what exactly is the point at trying to solve "worldly" problems such as poverty, starvation, famine, death, war, or even seeking a cure to aging. If as you say we will never be able to leave our sandbox, then what is the point to existing at all, period. We've answered "how" here, but there is no point in answering "why."

Let's put it this way - just because one knows the rules to a game does not make him a master of said game. My "reality" is that for now I am confined to this sandbox with others and while I'm here I'd like it to be an awesome sandbox. I think you answered your own question, but rather than saying "we can never leave our sandbox" I'd like to say "it is unlikely that we will can leave our sandbox"...and would we even want to leave?

Thus, you've created the perfect paradox. A paradox that suggests that chaos is ultimately the supreme solution to our universal quandry as any attempt at maintaining order will ultimately be met with complete oblivion. There is no point in existing at all. So why care then? Why not do what we each individually desire with such an outlook?

Your chaos is my order. Whose to say that there isn't a being who can look at a pile of sand and see "patterns of organized logic" where we see "chaotic randomness"?

We don't need to ask "what's the point" of existing. We have what we have, so instead of looking into the void for answers that ultimately do not matter, why not ask "how can I make the existence better for myself and those around me?" I don't see it as a paradox like you said.

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