LHC at home in London

Queen Mary College is the new headquarters of LHC@home, which uses PC downtime to simulate the path of a particle around CERN’s Large Hadron Collider

QueenMaryCollege, London, is the new headquarters of LHC@home, a screensaver that uses to downtime to simulate the path of a particle around CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. The LHC@home highly distributed computing program has already been installed on 40,000 computers.

Dr Alex Owen, who runs the project in the UK, said: ‘Like its larger cousin, SETI@home, LHC@home uses the spare computing power on people’s desks. But rather than searching for aliens, LHC@home models the progress of sub-atomic particles travelling at nearly the speed of light around Europe’s newest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).’

The LHC, currently under construction at CERN, is due to start operation in 2008.

LHC@home runs a program that simulates groups of protons travelling around LHC’s 27km ring up to a million times, to make sure their orbits are stable and the particles don’t hit the walls. Users in more than 100 countries have contributed the equivalent of about 3000 years calculation time on a single computer to the project.

LHC@home, an international collaboration involving five institutes in Europe and Canada, is now managed by physicists from the GridPP project in the UK.

GridPP’s Neasan O’Neill said: ‘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.’