UWE Bristol software helped to detect God particle

Issue date: 05 October 2012

Picture credit CERN

UWE Bristol experts working in complex software systems development created the software used to help CERN's CMS group detect the God particle in the world's biggest scientific experiment.

The team, from the Centre for Complex Cooperative Systems, which is led by Professor Richard McClatchey at UWE Bristol, are co-authors on the historic paper from the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN that announced the potential discovery of the famous Higgs Boson, the so- called 'God Particle'.

Professor McClatchey has led his team in inventing the CRISTAL software that was used for the management of complex large-scale data in the construction of the CMS Electromagnetic Calorimeter (ECal) detector, a component in the Large Hadron Collider. This was an essential element in the discovery of this fundamental particle, first detected using CMS ECal .

The Higgs Boson was detected in CMS after over 20 years of planning, design, construction and operation and is a crucially important piece in the puzzle for an understanding of the nature of matter.

Professor McClatchey said, “The CMS is one of four main experiments of the Large Hadron Collider containing complex scientific detectors designed to detect constituent particles emerging from proton collisions. Among these is the Electromagnetic Calorimeter (ECAL). The ECAL comprises an enveloping array of around 70,000 individual single crystals of lead tungsgate combined with fast front end and readout electronics that are able to measure accurately the location and high energy electromagnetic particles from collisions in the heart of the detector.

“Essentially we wrote the software that enabled the collection of characteristic physics data for the ECAL elements. We have used our specially developed software, known as CRISTAL, for many applications over the years including business process management systems and for image management in Alzheimer's studies.”

Professor Paul Olomolaiye, Executive Dean in the Faculty of Environment and Technology, said, “We are immensely proud of the work carried out by the talented team in the Centre for Complex Computer Systems. To be part of the world's biggest experiment is a fantastic achievement. Professor McClatchey modestly concedes that his team formed part of the huge international network and that their part in this was simply one of the many elements needed to create the Large Hadron Collider.”

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