Processing boost for high-energy physics
High-energy physics is the key to identifying the fundamental components of matter and their properties, an endless quest that scientists have been working hard on. The discovery of the Higgs particle in European research facilities has raised interest in advanced high-energy physics, highlighting the need for more powerful and precise detectors, selection tools and analysis systems. Beyond the Higgs particle, scientists strongly suspect the existence of many others. This theory could radically advance our understanding of nature and the cosmos. The EU-funded project 'Innovative tools for event selection in high energy physics' (ITES) envisioned new strategies to extract only rare and interesting events from a wealth of research data. It particularly looked at information technology to tease out new events taking place in experimental colliders and accelerators. To achieve its aims, the project first upgraded the event selection system of the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF), to improve the real-time reconstruction of the trajectories of coveted particles. In a second step the project studied the application of graphic processing units (GPUs) to the problem of real time event selection. Originally developed for gaming, these processors show much promise applied to scientific computing. The project team has made plans to transfer these achievements to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland — the world's largest and most powerful high-energy particle accelerator. Last but not least, developments of the ITES project could have a profound impact beyond the field of physics. The new processing technology is already being studied for medical imaging and security applications. Many technology applications could stand to benefit from these new tools and their immense processing power.