On 23 August the Scientific Information Port (PIC), a technological centre located on the campus of the UAB, started work on the first stage of the European project Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest particle accelerator in the world, which has the aim of reproducing conditions similar to those produced during the Big Bang in order to study the origins of matter. The PIC, along with other computational centres located around the world, began to receive data on cosmic rays collected by ATLAS, one of the four detectors that will be used in the project. These data will be used to test the system before the accelerator is started up in April 2008.
The LHC project will be carried out by the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), and consists of a large particle accelerator located in a 27 kilometre-long underground tunnel which straddles the border between France and Switzerland. Inside the tunnel, proton beams will be accelerated at speeds close to the speed of light and will be made to collide. This will allow conditions of extremely high density energy to be reproduced, close to those of the initial instants of the universe, the Big Bang.
In this way we will be able to study the origin of matter and test the Standard Model of particle physics, that is the theory in force which explains the behaviour of elemental particles and which needs to be tested to check its validity.
The acceleration and collision of high energy particles generates enormous information which is detected by four pieces of apparatus. The detectors send this information to a series of computational centres located in Europe, Asia and America which store and process the data. One such centre is the PIC, a technological centre in which the UAB, the Centre for Energy, Environmental and technological Research (CIEMAT), the Generalitat of Catalonia and the Institute of High Energy Physics (IFAE) all participate.
Between 23 August and 3 September they decided to started to check how the system was working, by making one of the detectors, called ATLAS, detect data coming from cosmic rays and then transmit these data to various computational centres, including the PIC. It was, therefore, the first exercise where LHC data were sent in real time to centres outside the CERN.
During these days information on ten million events has been stored (particle collisions). This information will be used to test the data acquisition, distribution and detection systems. One analysed, the data will be used to refine the calibration parameters of the detector before it is put to work in 2008, with data coming from the experiments on particle acceleration and collision.