Jul 11, 2012

Do we have Linux to thank for Higgs-Boson?

One of my Linux lovin' pals (yeah, you, Mr. "Oh, Linux what CAN'T you do!") is claiming that without Linux, the Higgs-Boson discovery wouldn't have happened. Ok, so Linux may be king when it comes to serious computing, but was it really central in the ability to carry out the research? Couldn't Window have been used to do the same thing? I mean, after all, they put a man on the moon with slide rules, and the Apolla lander was powered by a computer that an iPhone would put to shame!

Here's an article that covers this in some depth.

The Higgs Boson: Another Feather in Linux's Cap

""I want to mention how Linux (specifically, Scientific Linux and Ubuntu) had a vital role in the discovery of the new boson at CERN," reads a quote by an unnamed physicist at CERN in the Ubuntu Vibes article.

"We use it every day in our analyses, together with hosts of open software, such as ROOT, and it plays a major role in the running of our networks of computers (in the grid etc.) used for the intensive work in our calculations," the official adds.

"Yesterday's extremely important discovery has given us new information about how reality works at a very fundamental level and this is one physicist throwing Linux some love," the quote concludes."

LOL, well, your pal is certainly correct that they used Linux, but that doesn't mean it would have been impossible to do it otherwise.  Still, it shouldn't be a surprise that Linux was being used, since it was the best tool for the task at hand.  There is the Scientific Linux project, in which CERN is a dominant force, so the tools used in the Higgs-Boson discovery were designed to be used for this type of project (or perhaps specifically the Higgs-Boson research).  

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