Divine Finding: Technology, Applied Science Could Benefit from Discovery of 'God Particle'

By Ed Silverstein July 06, 2012

Researchers hope that the recent finding of the Higgs Boson particle – also known as the God particle as it helps to explain how mass is created – may someday benefit technology and diverse fields of science.

The particle was discovered in experiments at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) lab near Geneva, Switzerland.

In fact, the technology used in the CERN lab has already led to the development of grid computing and may soon be used in various gadgets – much like technology from space missions finding their way in products on Earth, according to news reports.

Grid computing could become more important than even the Internet, according to scientists from the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in India.

“Grid Computing, which connects hundreds of institutes working on the Large Hydron Collidor experiment at CERN through a network that receives shares and analyzes the huge volume of data generated, could be used to share information in various fields, including medicine,” according to a report from The Times of India.

In fact, software generated at CERN, known as GEANT, is already helping in cancer treatment.

"Grid computing is the first real, significant off-shoot of this historic experiment,” Subir Sarkar, a researcher at SINP, told The Times of India. “It distributes information at a lightning speed. More importantly, it is a system that stores data in a structured manner and lets the user search for it even more precisely than the Internet."

Close to one hundred CMS groups worldwide took part in the grid computing network, The Times added.

"The CERN grid computing system gives you access to information faster than any other search engine that has been devised so far," Sarkar said.

There could be lots of future data sharing through grid computing, too, Sarkar said. Also, another spin-off from CERN could be smaller and quicker detectors that can be used in electronic gadgets.

In Punjab, India, one graduate student in nematology, Harjot Singh, told the Times of India that "[the] discovery of any new particle helps a great deal to unlock the mysteries of universe. This discovery will not only be beneficial to physicists but [the] God particle will also help research in biology and chemistry."

"The subatomic particles not only help in research, but also have widespread use in healthcare, the food industry and nuclear energy generation," said Satvir Singh Hans, a veterinary sciences student at Punjab Agricultural University. A research fellow in plant pathology, Harpreet Kaur, said that, "From iPhones to computers, all this equipment uses our knowledge on the sub-atomic particles.”

Meanwhile, the question was raised if the finding will impact big data. “In big data and analytics I don’t see a single insight like why do all particles have mass,” IBM Research’s Software vice president David McQueeney told The Washington Post in a video interview. “I see different insights.” One such issue is the understanding of human language, he said.

In a more practical sphere, Linux was apparently praised by a CERN staff member for its use in finding the Higgs Boson particle.

"Linux (specifically, Scientific Linux and Ubuntu) had a vital role in the discovery of the new boson at CERN," one researcher wrote on Reddit. "We use it every day in our analyses, together with hosts of open software, such as ROOT, and it plays a major role in the running of our networks of computers (in the grid etc.) used for the intensive work in our calculations."

"In terms of data analysis, Windows could be used in principle,” the researcher added in an online discussion, as reported by IT World. “We could also use some type of device that manipulates symbols on a strip of tape according to a simple table of rules. Linux is used because it is most appropriate for the job. Linux is ubiquitous in HPC [high-performance computing] and we use a lot of computing power in LHC [Large Hadron Collider] physics, so the arguments for the use of Linux in HPC are very similar to the arguments for the use of Linux in LHC physics analyses."

"The fact is that Linux was the operating system used in the overwhelming majority of the analyses contributing to the discovery," he said. "So, in that sense I think I am justified in claiming that Linux played a vital role in the discovery."

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Contributor

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