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U.S. Research Networks Link Scientists to Large Hadron Collider

Posted on Sep 10, 2008 by Doug Howell
Tags: Advanced Networking, Big Data, Datasets for Research, Dynamic Circuit Network, High Energy and Nuclear Physics, imported, Innovation Platform, Internet2 Network, MAN LAN, Network Infrastructure, Tools & Collaboration

ESnet, Internet2 and USLHCNet Provide Critical Link For Petabits Per Day of Data to U.S. Scientists Participating in the Large Hadron Collider Research

ANN ARBOR, Mich; PASADENA, Calif.; BERKELEY, Calif. — September 10, 2008 — Today marked the first-ever attempt to circulate a beam of subatomic particles around the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a gigantic particle accelerator spanning the French-Swiss border. The event represents a major milestone along the path towards a new understanding of the fundamental nature and origins of the universe.

When the LHC officially begins its experiments, multiple terabytes of data per second will flow out of Europe via fiber optic cables to thousands of researchers spread across the globe, including over 1700 in the United States. This experiment will significantly increase the amount of data that the U.S. scientific community must transport and manage.

Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), Internet2, the country’s leading research and education network, and USLHCNet, which provides transatlantic network connectivity from the LHC facility to the United States have prepared for moving the massive amounts of data to U.S. sites where scientists can analyze the information.

These organizations have worked closely together to aggressively deploy the most advanced networks with enough bandwidth and capabilities to reliably transport multiple streams of 10 Gigabits of information per second – the equivalent of transmitting 500 hours of digital music per second for each 10 Gigabit line. The LHC will be the first experiment to fully utilize the advanced capabilities of these networks, which will connect DOE national laboratories and university researchers across the country to the LHC data.

“The science environment of today is very different from that of a few years ago. The advanced networks of ESnet, Internet2 and USLHCNet will provide the high-speed, extremely reliable connectivity between U.S. laboratories, universities and the international research institutions required to support the inherently collaborative, global nature of modern large-scale science,” said Steve Cotter, department head for ESnet.

Initially, the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), which manages the LHC, will store the experiments’ data. The information will then traverse the GÉANT2 network and migrate across the Atlantic Ocean via fiber optics, on a network called USLHCNet, which was developed and deployed by the researchers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. The LHC will generate many petabytes of data during each year of operation, and will accumulate an exabyte of real and simulated data within the first decade of its estimated 20 years of operation. The data will be distributed for processing among 150 computing and data storage facilities around the world, and will be analyzed intensively, and repeatedly as physicists and students refine their analysis methods and respond to any emerging discoveries.

“As a physicist who has been preparing for the LHC for nearly fifteen years, I am extremely excited about the milestone we have reached today in circulating the first beams at the LHC,” said Harvey Newman, Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. “The advanced networking and cyberinfrastructure resources created through partnerships among ESnet, Internet2 and USLHCNet make it possible for myself and my colleagues across the country to participate in the LHC experiments – which we believe will change scientific history.”

Like virtual Ellis Islands, two high-performance exchange points, MAN LAN in New York City and Starlight in Chicago, will be the U.S. entry points for LHC data. From there, ESnet will deliver data from the LHC’s ATLAS detector to The Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, New York where it will be processed and stored. Meanwhile, data from the LHC’s CMS detector will go to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, for processing and storage. From these laboratories, ESnet and Internet2 together with its regional network partners will distribute the data among 1700 U.S. scientists at 94 institutions throughout the country participating in this massive project, many of whom are supported by the DOE’s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation. Internet2 and ESnet officially launched a partnership in 2006 to develop and deploy the next-generation ESnet4 just in time for the LHC.

”Advanced networking is a critical part of the global infrastructure supporting the Large Hadron Collider, which represents the largest scientific experiment in history. Just as the World Wide Web was begun to promote information sharing among scientists, our advanced IP network and new networking technologies such as dynamic circuit networking that have been deployed by Internet2, ESnet and its partner networks ensures U.S. researchers have the most sophisticated resources to access the data from the most sophisticated scientific device in the world," said Rob Vietzke, executive director of network services for Internet2.

The LHC has been nicknamed the “Big Bang Machine” because scientists will use it to recreate the cosmic conditions one trillionth of a second after the big bang, in hopes of finding insights into the origins of matter. It consists of a 27 kilometer tunnel and cathedral- sized caverns 100 meters underground. The accelerator magnets that guide the beams on their circular orbit are supercooled to a temperature just slightly above absolute zero, which is colder than outer space. It will accelerate matter to 99.999999% the speed of light, and recreate conditions a trillionth of a second after the big bang.

On October 15, 2008, Internet2 will provide a special peek behind the scenes at the LHC during its upcoming Fall 2008 Internet2 Member Meeting being held in New Orleans, LA—just a week before the expected first atomic collisions are anticipated at the LHC. The event will be netcast live for worldwide viewing. For more information, visit:

About ESnet and Berkeley Lab

ESnet is funded by the DOE Office of Science to provide network and collaboration services in support of the agency's research missions. A pioneer in providing high-bandwidth, reliable connections, ESnet enables researchers at national laboratories, universities and other institutions to communicate with each other using the collaborative capabilities needed to address some of the world's most important scientific challenges. The ESnet Department is part of the Computational Research Division at Berkeley Lab. For more information about ESnet visit:
Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California. Visit our Website at

About Internet2

Internet2 is the foremost U.S. advanced networking consortium. Led by the research and education community since 1996, Internet2 promotes the missions of its members by providing both leading-edge network capabilities and unique partnership opportunities that together facilitate the development, deployment and use of revolutionary Internet technologies. Internet2 brings the U.S. research and academic community together with technology leaders from industry, government and the international community to undertake collaborative efforts that have a fundamental impact on tomorrow's Internet. For more information:

About USLHCNet

USLHCNet provides transatlantic connections of the Tier1 computing facilities at Fermilab and Brookhaven with the Tier0 and Tier1 facilities at CERN as well as Tier1s elsewhere in Europe and Asia. Together with ESnet, Internet2, the GEANT pan-European network, and NSF’s UltraLight project, US LHCNet also supports connections between the Tier2 centers (where most of the analysis of the data will take place, starting this year) and the Tier1s as needed.

Media contacts:

Lauren Rotman

Linda Vu
LBNL Computing Sciences Directorate
Phone: 510.495.2402