Undersea link to LHC

December 2014
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The Energy Science Network, the high-speed fiber optic data pipeline that has connected all 17 U.S. national laboratories for almost 30 years, will cross the Atlantic Ocean this year. The network will link with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva and with other information-intensive European research projects.

The network, managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has deployed four new transatlantic cables at different underwater locations, ensuring uninterrupted international service even in the event of three simultaneous cable cuts, ESnet director Gregory Bell says. The expanded service will coincide with restart of the LHC, the world’s most powerful high-energy accelerator, at beefed-up outputs. That resumption alone is expected to double raw data flows from 20 petabytes to 40 petabytes.

“We’re actually building (the new link) to support all Department of Energy missions and expect it to be used by a wide range of scientists,” Bell says. “Virtually every scientific domain we know about is becoming more data-intensive, so almost every scientific activity of interest to the DOE is driving more traffic.”

Besides high-energy physics, he expects growing international scientific exchanges in such areas as materials science, genomics, astrophysics, cosmology and climate.

US LHCNet, managed by the California Institute of Technology, previously linked United States collaborators in the LHC project with Europe and provided know-how on maintaining transatlantic service. Bell says the new connections will allow data flows as high as 340 gigabits per second.

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About the Author

Monte Basgall is a freelance writer and former reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Miami Herald and Raleigh News & Observer. For 17 years he covered the basic sciences, engineering and environmental sciences at Duke University.

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