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Aaron Finney
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Message 12071 - Posted: 15 Jan 2006, 22:57:46 UTC
Last modified: 15 Jan 2006, 22:58:20 UTC

Has anyone else wondered why the homepage for the LHC does not include a link or even a reference to LHC@Home?

Does CERN not like us?

http://lhc.web.cern.ch/lhc/
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Profile Alex
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Message 12077 - Posted: 16 Jan 2006, 7:36:55 UTC

You don't see a direct link to ATLAS on that page as well.
Neither of which means that they don't like either part of the project.


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I'm not the LHC Alex. Just a number cruncher like everyone else here.

River~~
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Message 12082 - Posted: 16 Jan 2006, 11:46:30 UTC
Last modified: 16 Jan 2006, 11:49:03 UTC

There's a lot that isn't obvious about CERN / LHC / etc and this question shows just how un-obvious the structure is from the outside.

CERN is not the LHC and the LHC is not CERN.

CERN is the organisation that runs the site at Geneva and the cross-border facilities in adjacent parts of France. It coordinates collaborative projects and machines.

When I was at CERN in the late 70's the LEP was in about the same stage as the LHC is now (the LEP is the machine that has been turned off to make room for the LHC). A massive project involving many universities from many countries and engineers attached both to the universities and directly to the LEP. The only way such a project can fly is by division of labour and inevitably some things fall trough the cracks where the labour is divded.

If they follow the same kind of organisation chart as the LEP did, there will be a beam physics group (designing the machine itself, placing the magnets, specifying the exact design of the magnets, etc). There will also be several different experimental groups (each a collaboration of several universities) each designing the initial experiment to be run at one of the beam crossing points where the particles can be made to collide.

Clearly LHC@home belongs to the beam physics part of the wider LHC project. While the LHC site deals with beam physics stuff, maybe it does not go into such detail as particular design facilities. It would not have occurred to that webmaster to include a link to just one facet of the overall design.

However, behind your question is an interesting point. It would be useful if the LHC website did contain a link to LHC@home. From the experimentalists agenda getting the public involved in the design stage of the machine will build in public support for the project (having given crunching time we are less likely to ask for our tax pounds / euros to go elsewhere).

The reason this has not happened is almost certainly that nobody thought of it.

Teams with different immediate agendas (one to design the machine, the several others designing experiments around the beam crossing points) will not in practice need to communicate as much as you'd expect. Not so much about 'not liking' as 'not my problem - I've got enough to think of anyway'. Nobody on any committee will make themselves popular if they start looking for ways to do the work of other committees.

However a simple change like this might well be possible without going through all the committees - almost certainly the LHC webmaster could and would add a link without needing to ask anyone else.

I would like to suggest that a tactful note could be sent to the webmaster of the LHC site asking for a suitable link "Help design the LHC" or suchlike to be added to the LHC homepage. Maybe one of our project people will send one?

River~~
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Profile Chrulle
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Message 12149 - Posted: 18 Jan 2006, 9:47:54 UTC

Unfortunately it is not an easy little fix.

We have contacted the department responsible for the main cern web pages. They are going to redo the public web pages to focus more on the LHC, and they have promised that these new pages will link to us.

While LHC@home at the moment is runing sixtrack for the beam people it does not mean the we belong to the beam group. We are an experimental service belonging to the IT department. The IT department is a separate group where the experiments and groups can "buy" different "services", like for example farm servers.

At the moment we are only running sixtrack, but we are working on other applications as well.

cheers,
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Chrulle
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Niels Bohr Institute

Profile Nightbird
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Message 12235 - Posted: 21 Jan 2006, 21:54:29 UTC

We are an experimental service belonging to the IT department.
And the IT department belongs to "who or what" ?
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Do you want to get banned for 31 years, your account and credits deleted at a Boinc project ? Predictor@home is your best choice.

Grutte Pier [Wa oars]~GP500
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Message 12257 - Posted: 22 Jan 2006, 12:09:52 UTC - in response to Message 12235.

We are an experimental service belonging to the IT department.
And the IT department belongs to "who or what" ?

Too all i guess, the question could be: "which groups care about our efforts"
And how do they involve determine what has too be calculated.


Ps: havent done a job yet but it's on it's way.
LHC is my BU for rosetta, when run out of work again or so.
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Feisal
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Message 12472 - Posted: 26 Jan 2006, 19:54:58 UTC - in response to Message 12257.

The necessary resources for such a study are available only within the LHC@home project.


That shows the importance of LHC@Home. It seems that Cern DO care but the guys responsible for the website can't be botherd to update. The website looks ancient.
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hurax
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Message 12607 - Posted: 1 Feb 2006, 21:05:06 UTC

Perhaps the reason is that experimental physics and good web design are a contradiction. See http://www.mpi-hd.mpg.de/non_acc/ as proof. Thankfully LaTeX imposes the style crafted by professionals on its users.
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River~~
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Message 12622 - Posted: 3 Feb 2006, 9:46:14 UTC - in response to Message 12607.

Perhaps the reason is that experimental physics and good web design are a contradiction...


so if they'd done it in LaTeX a link to LHC would have been inculded automatically by the system? ;-)

Seriously, your comment confuses two kinds of design.

There is design to make the web easy to use.

Secondly there is visual design to make the pages look good visually.

Often these design goals pull in opposite directions.

Yes, experimental physicists, who invented the web in the first place, tend to resist many of the LAteX kind of ideas that have been imposed on the web - because it becomes harder to use as a result - there are many examples I can give you so don't ask unless you are *really* interested..

But a missing link is not that kind of issue - it is an obsolete page that has not been updated for too long. And of course it is precisely *because* web design has been taken away from the engineers that they are no longer able to sneak in a new link for themselves whenever they want to. No, they have to spend budget on a graphic design guru to make any kind of change at all.

Personally I rue the day the graphic design nutters were allowed anywhere near the web - they could instead have designed an alternative (based on lAtEx or pdf, perhaps) and kept the design horrors off the serious web.

River~~

senatoralex85
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Message 12652 - Posted: 6 Feb 2006, 17:21:41 UTC - in response to Message 12622.

River,

I think the point your forgetting is that the web is used by the world now, and not just a bunch of physicists. Although it would be nice to keep things simple, I don't think that is possible with all of the online purchasing and marketing. It's all in how you present the information, or is it River?




Perhaps the reason is that experimental physics and good web design are a contradiction...


so if they'd done it in LaTeX a link to LHC would have been inculded automatically by the system? ;-)

Seriously, your comment confuses two kinds of design.

There is design to make the web easy to use.

Secondly there is visual design to make the pages look good visually.

Often these design goals pull in opposite directions.

Yes, experimental physicists, who invented the web in the first place, tend to resist many of the LAteX kind of ideas that have been imposed on the web - because it becomes harder to use as a result - there are many examples I can give you so don't ask unless you are *really* interested..

But a missing link is not that kind of issue - it is an obsolete page that has not been updated for too long. And of course it is precisely *because* web design has been taken away from the engineers that they are no longer able to sneak in a new link for themselves whenever they want to. No, they have to spend budget on a graphic design guru to make any kind of change at all.

Personally I rue the day the graphic design nutters were allowed anywhere near the web - they could instead have designed an alternative (based on lAtEx or pdf, perhaps) and kept the design horrors off the serious web.

River~~


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River~~
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Message 12662 - Posted: 7 Feb 2006, 1:52:01 UTC - in response to Message 12652.

I think the point your forgetting is that the web is used by the world now, and not just a bunch of physicists. Although it would be nice to keep things simple, I don't think that is possible with all of the online purchasing and marketing. It's all in how you present the information, or is it River?


Exactly so senatoralex. That question is exactly the right one to ask.

The issue is betwwen two sorts of info - on the one hand info like price, quantity, etc that remains totally independent of presentation. I'd suggest that purchasing comes into this category, and your bank statement does, and so does physics.

On the other hand the other sort of info where presentation is everything to the point where the facts are lost without the publisher being in control of the presentation. It is clear that marketing comes into this second category. Online fine art images would be another.

Clearly graphic design is important for some situations. Clearly it is irrelevant for others. I don't know about you, but if I go to an auto-teller machine (ATM) to check my bank balance, I don't go for one with a pretty screen, I go for one that is handy and so long as the numbers are accurate I regard it as a useful service.

The web was designed for the first case, designed for data where the content is all and the presentation can vary from one reader to another without detracting from the value of the information.

This means it could be, and was, designed so that the same info could be usable on monitors of different shapes, sizes, and technologies mono / colour / braille / screen-reader all controlled by the same tags etc. Just think, one set of simple html and the info is displayed correctly on anything from a mobile phone (no need for separate wap pages) to a mono monitor to a low-res TV used as a monitor to an expensive plasma TV, and the tags were designed to be equally usable by braille readers and speech syth readers with no special extra treatment needed - automatically catering for minority needs whether the publisher intended to or not.

Where info did not depend on appearance, like your bank balance on the ATM screen, the original HTML was ideal because it was tailored for that.

Other technologies like pdf were already around for cases where image mattered and the result was to be best viewed in a certain resolution, etc. Pdf, even as it was in those days, coped better and still copes better with graphic design than the web does today.

By trying to introduce graphic design to a medium where it doesn't belong the result was to break the benefit of pure content for the physics, banking, and purchasing uses, while simultaneously limiting the scope for the graphic designers. If graphic design is what you need, any designer given the choice would prefer to do the job in a pdf-based medium than in an html-based one.

In my view, what was needed was for something like pdf to be used for the graphic design sensitive pages, leaving the html pages for their original purpose. All it needed was to introduce hyperlinks into pdf (which happened anyway, but later) and we'd have better graphic design for pages where that matters, and would have avoided spoiling the fact-friendly features of the original html model.

That is why there is an http: at the front of every url - room was deliberately left for a multiplicity of different protocols, all rendered by the same browser so seamless for the user, and so that each protocol tuned for specific needs. Browsers should have coped with diverse protocols, could have competed for how well their browsers integrated pdf pages and html pages, for example. Instead, as we know, they chose to compete to see who could break the original intention of the standard most comprehensively.

Clearly (and sadly) it is too late now to go back and do it right...

River~~

lpoorman
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Message 12673 - Posted: 7 Feb 2006, 9:41:13 UTC - in response to Message 12149.

[River, you wrote

When I was at CERN in the late 70's the LEP was in about the same stage as the LHC is now...

I do not know if this is the correct place to ask this question. If not say so, otherwise I would be very interested in hearing just exactly what type of work you were doing on the Large Electron-Positron Collider. What I mean is that you could have been working on the dectors or you could have been working on the magnets or you could have been using the results to write a thesis. Or even something else entirely. Or maybe I should ask this question in the Cafe?

River~~
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Message 12676 - Posted: 7 Feb 2006, 18:27:42 UTC - in response to Message 12673.

...I would be very interested in hearing just exactly what type of work you were doing on the Large Electron-Positron Collider...


actually I wasn't, but not for want of trying.

I did a Masters in High Energy Physics, as the field was called in those days - not that 1 - 5 GeV is considered energetic nowadays. I was hoping to go on with the same group to do a PhD based around a collaboration at the Deustche Electronen Synchotron, DESY. The collaboration was called JADE, standing for JApan, Deustcheland England, the countries represented in our collaboration.

JADE was looking at the reaction e e -> mu mu where an electron and positron collide at high energy and produce a pair of muons - possible via an intermediate particle sometimes called a resonance. For example, if each beam energy is just over 1.5GeV, the total energy is just enough to make a J/psi particle which then decays into other stuff, maybe back into e e but maybe into mu mu.

Someonee else had already discovered the J/psi so we were hoping for something more exciting at a higher energy. One of my colleagues had a schoolboy sense of humour and went on endlessly about wanting to see a naked beuaty. The b quark is now usually called bottom rather than beauty, but has never been seen naked under either name.

In the gaps betwween the hoped for resonances, or in the total absence of any resonances, the cross section would give a further experimental test to the Weinberg Salaam theory - this was the fist step to a grand unified theory in that it united the eletcromag and weak interactions, but did not incorporate the strong or gravitational reactions.

What we now call the standard model was already around, but was not yet tested sufficiently to have reached its current paradigmatic status. We hoped therefore to find results that would challenge either that model or one of its variants.

Apart from the fact that we were focussing purely on e e -> mu mu, we were doing what everyone else in particle physics was doing at the time. Final tests on the well established Weinberg-Salamm model and contributing to the long era of tests on the Standard Model that led eventially to its wholesale acceptance.

Disaster struck, both for me and for my group. For me, it was the prof telling me I could not stay on to do a PhD. In his opinion I had spent too much time computing during my first nine months, and not enough time on my hardware. This verdict was not shaken by the facts that my detector worked, and that I had developed a new computerised way of testing a position sensitve detector (using a honeywell 516, a computer the size of a domestic fridge and about half the crunch power of the ZX spectrum).

For my group, disaster happened at their CERN experiment, that was just coming to an end. They say every cloud has a silver lining, and I got the silver lining here. Fire broke out in the experimental chamber around our collision zone at CERN, the beam shut down safely (to the annoyance of the experiments at the other three crossing zones).

Then the pompiers arrived, and sprayed foam over all our expensive electronics and over all our light-sensitive lead glass detectors. I'd been applying for work at CERN anyway, and went out to an interview for a job, which I did not get. While there, I visted the clean up of our groups experiment, and found they were hiring semi-skilled labour, so applied to become on of the clean-up people - and turned up for paid work on an experiment run by our own team. It really was the best of both worlds while it lasted. Not being part of the science staff I had no real responsiblilties except when I was 'clocked on', but being part of the research group I got to go to all the science presentations, colloquia, seminars, lectures, tutorials, etc that were on. The prof liked having someone on the clean up team who understood why the equipment needed to be clean to such and such a standard, and my fellow workers liked picking my brains about what these lead glass blocks actually did. (They flashed when particles went through at faster than the in-medium speed of light, and a photmultiplier detected the flash, hnce indirectly detected the particle).

One thing I learnt that summer was exactly how division of labour works on a big project. What I'd wanted to do when I joined the Manchester HEP group was find a role where I could write programs and do physics at the same time. That wasn't what our group's role was in the collaboration, and the whole project will only work if everyone does their own job, rather than each doing what they fancy and some jobs falling through the cracks in the floor. And that, of course, is why, Mr Moderator, this answer belongs in this thread and not in the cafe.

It is not that one group hates another group, when it won't take on extra work to make things better for the other group - it is simply that to keep its prestige and its funding, the first thing any group at CERN must do (be it an expeimental group, or a beam physics group, or the IT group) is to make sure it discharges its own mission. Had I known that a year earlier, I'd not have joined the Manchester experimental group but looked for the then equivalent of the IT group (IT was not called that then, of course).

As it was, I never used any of the particle physics I'd learnt. It was not wasted, I enjoyed every one of those seminars I'd been to -- and I later discovered that my drift chamber prototype had been re-prototyped by another student, and a production version using some of my ideas and some of his was used on a later experiment at DESY -- so I am happy that I did gove something to the field.

After that summer I found other work - ionospherics. Not that I was at all interested in the science, but I could do it, I could write programs because that was what that group needed, and I got to spend two years in the Anarctic doing it - a place I'd always wanted to go. In many ways it suited me better to be a multi-role player in a small research group than being a single role player in a massive international collaboration.

Do I regret my change of direction? I did at the time - I was bitter for ages about the prof's decision - but later I came to realise that there are swings and roundabouts. On the downside I missed out on the science I most wanted to do, but on the upside I got to go somewhere I'd always wanted to go, and that I'd never dreamed I'd ever get the chance to see. CERN would have been nice, living near Lake Geneva would have been lovely, but Antarctica was ...

cool.

River~~

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