The Reality Institute

ESnet4 Helps Researchers Seeking the Origins of Matter by Linda Vu


and now for the article written by Linda Vu, former writer for NASA and current writer for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

ESnet4 Helps Researchers Seeking the Origins of Matter

Contact: Linda Vu, 510-495-2402,

September 9, 2008

Approaching the speed of light, millions of protons will collide per second when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) comes online this fall. The experiment will generate more data than the international scientific community has ever tried to manage. Scientists suspect the outcome of these “subatomic smashups” will provide valuable insights into the origins of matter and dark energy in the Universe.

As thousands of researchers across the globe anxiously await the results of this experiment, getting the massive amounts of data to them is no insignificant task. Fortunately, network engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) foresaw this data challenge years ago and developed ESnet4, a new large-scale science data transport network with enough bandwidth to 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, which straddles the Swiss and French borders on the outskirts of Geneva, will be the first experiment to fully utilize the advanced capabilities of this network, which connects DOE national laboratories to researchers across the country and collaborators worldwide.

“ESnet4 is one of the most robust scientific data networks in existence,” says Steve Cotter, Department Head for ESnet. “The science environment of today is very different from that of a few years ago. ESnet4 provides the high-speed, extremely reliable connectivity between labs and U.S. and international research institutions required to support the inherently collaborative, global nature of modern large-scale science.”

ESnet is funded by the DOE and based at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.

Flowing Information to America

The European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), which manages the LHC, will initially collect the experiment’s data. The information will then migrate across the Atlantic Ocean via fiber optics on a network called USLHCnet, which is managed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.

Like a virtual Ellis Island, an ESnet hub on 8th Street in Manhattan will be the US entry point for LHC data. From there, ESnet will deliver data from the LHC’s ATLAS detector to Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., 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, Ill., for processing and storage.

Researchers at universities and DOE laboratories across the country will then be able to connect to these databases through ESnet4, the DOE’s next-generation scientific network. Internet2, the country’s leading education and research network, and ESnet officially launched a partnership in 2006 to develop and deploy ESnet4 just in time for the LHC experiment.

To maximize efficiency, ESnet4 utilizes three main elements:

A circuit-oriented Science Data Network for moving terabytes of data. Like a direct line connecting two endpoints, this dedicated network allows information to flow directly at high data rates from one remote host to another.

An Internet Protocol (IP) network for typical data transfers. Unlike the Science Data Network, the IP network is connected to many computers, and can have multiple endpoints. To reach a destination, information traveling on an IP network will constantly encounter “gateways” that quickly direct and redirect it. Like air-traffic controllers, the gateways virtually determine which routes are preferred and find the most efficient routes for travel. Because information will move through numerous gateways before reaching its destination, IP networks are not the most efficient tool for moving massive datasets. Like hundreds of cars trying to pass on a toll road, large datasets can cause virtual “traffic jams” if too much information is trying to pass through the gateways. Thus, the Science Data Network is ideal for moving large datasets.

Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) are the last component of ESnet4. This system carries both Science Data and IP networks to effectively connect research centers in the same geographic region. Currently, 11 ESnet sites are served by MANs. The Long Island MAN and the Chicago Area MAN were specifically built to facilitate the movement of data from the LHC experiments.
“LHC is just the beginning,” says Joe Burrescia, General Manager for ESnet. “ESnet4’s innovative and reliable infrastructure allows scientists from all over the world, and across disciplines, to exchange large datasets and analyses in an efficient way. It is these collaborations, this sharing of information, that allows us to better understand the world around us.”

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

[Here’s a basic overview from wikipedia that describes what they’re using this son of a bitch for:

“When in operation, about seven thousand scientists from eighty countries will have access to the LHC. Physicists hope to use the collider to test various grand unified theories and enhance their ability to answer the following questions:

* Is the popular Higgs mechanism for generating elementary particle masses in the Standard Model realised in nature? If so, how many Higgs bosons are there, and what are their masses?
* Will the more precise measurements of the masses of the quarks continue to be mutually consistent within the Standard Model?
* Do particles have supersymmetric (“SUSY”) partners?
* Why are there apparent violations of the symmetry between matter and antimatter? See also CP-violation.
* Are there extra dimensions indicated by theoretical gravitons, as predicted by various models inspired by string theory, and can we “see” them?
* What is the nature of dark matter and dark energy?
* Why is gravity so many orders of magnitude weaker than the other three fundamental forces?
* Is time travel (utilising either General theory of relativity or wormholes or black holes) possible?”

for more information on what the collider will do, check out the following links:   ]

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