Do you fancy yourself a budding physicist? Do you have hours upon hours of time to pour over documents? Do you have a flair for the mundane?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are in luck: 300 TB of data from the Large Hadron Collider is now available for your perusal online, for free.
The data that has been made available for you to ogle over stems from about half of the experiments that CERN has conducted with the LHC’s CMS Detector during 2011.
If you’re a student, the good news is that you won’t need laboratory-strength computers to interpret the data; one at a university should suffice.
“The so-called ‘primary datasets’ are in the same format used by the CMS Collaboration to perform research. The ‘derived datasets’ on the other hand require a lot less computing power and can be readily analysed by university or high-school students, and CMS has provided a limited number of datasets in this format,” CERN said in a press statement.
To quench your thirst for knowledge without having to go through the data, you can run your own simulations from the files.
““Simulations play a crucial role in particle-physics research and CMS is also making available the protocols for generating the simulations that are provided. The data release is accompanied by analysis tools and code examples tailored to the datasets,” CERN’s statement reads. “A virtual-machine image based on CernVM, which comes preloaded with the software environment needed to analyse the CMS data, can also be downloaded from the portal.”
But why would CERN make the data available in the first place? Well, it is all done in the name of education.
“Once we’ve exhausted our exploration of the data, we see no reason not to make them available publicly. The benefits are numerous, from inspiring high-school students to the training of the particle physicists of tomorrow. And personally, as CMS’s data-preservation co-ordinator, this is a crucial part of ensuring the long-term availability of our research data,” said Kati Lassila-Perini, a CMS physicist who leads these data-preservation efforts.
If you want to go over the data, just head on over to CERN’s Open Data portal.