What happens when 7 physicists play music inside the world’s most powerful particle accelerator?
CERN, Switzerland | 29 September 2014
Celebrating 60 years of CERN
This incredible and evocative video, commissioned for CERN’s 60th birthday celebration today, shows seven scientist musicians playing "data" from the four LHC experiment collaborations, each standing at their experimental site, playing music from their own experiment data.
The music is based on the translation into melody (sonification) of scientific data collected by the four main Large Hadron Collider experiments (ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and LHCb).
Using data that CERN researchers use to study the deepest secrets of our world, Domenico Vicinanza, Arts and Humanities Manager at GÉANT, created the pieces by associating each measurement with a musical note from a certain musical scale.
The same infrastructure used by CERN researchers every day to communicate, exchange and processs experimental data was used to create the music. Data sonification is an intensive process and creating melodies from data relies on the pan-European GÉANT research and education internet network, which operates at speed of up to 100Gbps, as well as the EGI grid computing infrastructure.”
What is sonification?
Sonification works by associating a music note to each measurement created by the experiments. The resulting melody is then an actual presentation of the scientific data, just using sounds instead of coloured dots.
Intervals between values in the original data set are mapped to interval between notes in the melody. The same numerical value was associated to the same note. As the values increased or decreased, the pitch of the notes grows or diminishes accordingly. In this way any regularity in the scientific data can be naturally mapped to the melody.
Data sonification can be an intensive process and creating the melody from the text of CERN convention relied on the pan-European GÉANT network, which operates at speed of up to 100Gbps and the EGI grid computing infrastructure.
Grid computing is one of the “power tools” behind the discovery of Higgs boson. Grid computation works by linking together multiple computers in different locations via high speed networks, combining their processing power to deliver faster results when analysing enormous volumes of data.
Vicinanza continues: “Networks allow researchers to cooperate and collaborate, to exchange data, experience and information. Networks enable music to cross distances where multiple performers can play together in real time. Networks, like music and science are bridges across which societies and cultures can grow and develop.”
The data used for the pre-concert:
- ATLAS: data from the Higgs boson public announcement (July 2012)
- ALICE: Lead ion collision at LHC (Pb-Pb data taken at the end of 2010 run)
- CMS: Higgs boson event (Higgs to 2 gamma decay, August 2012)
- LHCb : data from the first observation of a heavy-flavored spin-3 particle (July 2014)
CERN turns 60, celebrates peaceful collaboration for science
LHChamber Music - YouTube
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