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Will the Large Hadron Collider Create 12 Miles of Data?

By Andrew Moseman
Jul 22, 2008 10:46 PMNov 5, 2019 8:45 AM


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The Large Hadron Collider is almost ready. Scientists are cooling the components of this giant underground accelerator to extreme temperatures—already -350 degrees Fahrenheit in some places—in anticipation of activating it next month. But don't expect immediate answers—first physicists are going to have to wade through the sea of numbers. Nature reports today that the LHC will create 700 megabytes of data per second. If you stacked the number of CDs necessary to store a year's worth of LHC's data, the pile would reach 20 kilometers into the air, or about 12.5 miles. Thankfully, the physicists have hundreds of thousands of computer processors to help them digest this data deluge. And the algorithms they wrote will help computers pick out the most interesting particle collisions—the ones worthy of more study. Still, don't hold your breath for the theory of everything. This could take a while. Image: Courtesy of CERN

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