LHC Data Turned Into Smashing Music for CERN's 60th Birthday

Image: Higgs candidate event
Scientists have turned data from the search for the Higgs boson at CERN's Large Hadron Collider, such as the CMS event shown here from 2012, into chamber music.CERN file

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Europe's CERN particle physics lab celebrated its 60th birthday on Monday, and to mark the occasion, music-minded physicists have transformed scientific data from the four underground detectors around CERN's Large Hadron Collider into a piece titled LHChamber Music. Physicist-musician Domenico Vicinanza's composition isn't the first time scientists have used algorithms to "sonify" data. Vicinanza has done it before with the LHC's Higgs boson discovery and Voyager magnetometer readings from deep space. But this piece is arguably the most ambitious effort to date.

The threads of the melody come from the ATLAS, CMS, ALICE and LHCb detectors — and they're performed by scientists and engineers who are involved in those experiments. Why do it? On the LHC Open Symphony blog, Vicinanza and his colleagues explain that melodic interpretation could help blind researchers connect with a scientific discovery, and help anyone "understand, or at least 'feel,' the complexity and beauty of a finding." If nothing else, it's beautiful music to smash particles by. And if chamber music isn't your cup of tea, there's always Les Horribles Cernettes or the "Large Hadron Rap."



— Alan Boyle