Thursday, September 22, 2011

ROOTing out the Higgs Boson at CERN

UPDATED! - See Below
  1. CERN says it's removed 40,000 bugs from ROOT, the software that analyzes the data from the Large Hadron Collider.
  2. ROOT - made up of 3.5 million lines of C++ code - crunches the 15 PB (petabytes) of data generated by the LHC's collisions each year.
  3. Several million additional lines of code have been added in the search for the Higgs boson by the physicists on staff.
  4. They admit there is no guarantee that they've gotten all the bugs - "software doesn't work that way," said Axel Naumann of the ROOT development team.
It's quite interesting that not long after the LHC@Home project was instituted, "bugs" are found in the ROOT system of the LHC at CERN. It would appear that the physicists and managers underestimated the potential threat to their software from connecting to vast numbers of "home" computers.
My colleague, Gyro Gearloose, has unearthed statistics indicating that a large plurality of home computers - whether Windows or MacOS - are compromised by viruses, trojans, or rootkits which could easily threaten the software of other computers which communicate with them. While it's a bit of a stretch to think that CERN is running Windows or Mac software to control much of anything, C++ is a common language, and rogue hackers are more than conversant with it. C++ may be the back-door leading to the derailing of the search for the Higgs boson.
I hesitate to exonerate the leadership at CERN without more evidence, but it may be that my past criticism has been somewhat too stern.
Should developments confirm that suspicion, you will find my apology here (but I'm not ready to bet on it).

CERN has announced they've found neutrinos going faster than light, but they're not confident of this result and are asking other physics teams to check their results and replicate their experiments. Could this be an artifact of compromised analysis software? It's looking more and more as if these folks are simply incompetent, rather than malicious. I'm not sure which is worse, when handling the powerful equipment and vast budgetary resources which are a part of this kind of science.

Posted by Procrustes 17 (with thanks to Gyro Gearloose)

Related Posts:
CERN, Cosmic Rays, and Cover-Ups
CERN to Hide Higgs Boson
CERN's LHC Wants Your CPU Cycles
Slowly I CERN ... Step By Step ... Inch By Inch ...
IP v6 is on the way - with Big Brother
IPv6 May Not Be Necessary


  1. Do yourself a favor, read about the scientific process, how computers work, what a programming language is and does, and hold off posting anything until you're done. Maybe even graduate high-school first. Pay attention to any comments in your English class about establishing credibility.

    If this was written as a joke, ignore the above and lighten up the tone. Any sarcasm is not as obvious as it should be. It just leaves one with a bunch of wrong information or a headache.

    Best of luck!

  2. Your an irrational idiot... I just can't be bothered to argue with a moron who does not know what he is talking about!

    Your a little too arrogant and if your going to be quoting Science / Techie things at least have the qualifications to back it up.

    Wikipedia does not count !!

  3. @Matthew - I'm sorry if I gave you a headache, or if you feel misinformed, as that was far from my intent.

    @Anonymous - While I appreciate your attempt to defend me, I feel your attack on M. Barthel was unreasoned and unreasonable - oh, and it should be 'You're' rather than 'Your' to start each of your first two paragraphs. Good grammar is always appreciated.

  4. "My colleague, Gyro Gearloose, has unearthed statistics indicating that a large plurality of home computers"

    1) Tell us something we don't already know.
    2) "plurality" in this context makes no sense, if you mean "number" then use that word, otherwise you just erode your message.
    3) Grid computing does not just ask one question of one computer, it asks the same question multiple times in order to ensure that any fault, be it hardware or software, is removed.

  5. @Anonymous -
    1. I did.
    2. Read as "percentage" if you prefer.
    3. What's your point here? If there is no danger of errors from CERN, why did they bother to remove the 40,000 bugs? Why have they asked other organizations to check their results?

    Was there any real point to your comment?

  6. 3. It wouldn't be science if you didn't ask other organizations to check your results. The whole point is that it is reproducible.

  7. Anonymous -
    Well said, sir or madam.
    My point, however, was that the LHCers at CERN are so uncomfortable with their neutrino results that they have actually released some results before they can claim to know what they have.
    This is not the norm at CERN, where they seem routinely to attempt to mislead other researchers as to the energy range wherein the Higgs boson ought to be sought.
    You are absolutely correct that if a result is not reproducible, it's nothing but speculation - or cold fusion.