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PHOTO COURTESY CERN
Global Grid Helps CERN Find ‘God Particle’
SCIENTISTS AT CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced that they have observed a particle that might turn out to be the
long-sought Higgs boson, or “God particle,”
thought to be part of the explanation for why
matter has mass. And a worldwide network of
computers played a key role in the discovery.
The particle is the heaviest boson ever
found. If it is indeed the Higgs boson, it would
give scientists a more complete understanding
of the nature of the universe.
Scientists will have a clearer picture later
this year after the Large Hadron Collider,
the largest particle accelerator in the world,
provides more data. “We now have more than
double the data we had last year,” said Sergio
Bertolucci, CERN’s director of research and
computing, in a statement. “That should be
enough to see whether the trends we were
seeing in the 2011 data are still there.”
CERN’s 17-mile-long collider generates
hundreds of millions of particle collisions each
second. Recording, storing and analyzing these
collisions represents a massive challenge; the
collider produces roughly 20 million gigabytes
of data each year.
Twitter has issued its first report
about the requests it received this
year from various governments for
user information, and its responses.
The U. S. government asked for
information about far more users
than any other country, according to
the report. Between Jan. 1 and June
30, Twitter received 679 requests
for information from U. S. authorities
pertaining to 948 users. Japan came
in a distant second, with 98 requests
concerning 147 users.
Most Twitter users are in the U. S.,
according to social media consultancy Semiocast. Japan is the third-largest Twitter user, after Brazil.
Twitter provided some or all of
the information sought in 75% of
the U.S. government’s requests. The
company provided data in response
to half the requests from the Netherlands and to one-third of the requests from Japan and Australia.
Most requests were connected to
criminal cases, Twitter said, adding
that requests so far this year have
exceeded the total for all of 2011.
Governments recognize that social
networks store a great deal of infor-
mation that could be useful to law
enforcement, said Eva Galperin, a
freedom of expres-
sion coordinator at
the Electronic Fron-
Therefore, she noted, the companies
are “extremely powerful” and are
“capable of de facto censorship.”
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