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High-Energy Linux: Linux & the Large Hadron Collider

The biggest, most powerful atom-smasher the world has ever seen, the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), with its 17-mile underground loop and TeVs (Teraelectronvolts) of proton beams is finally up and running, with Linux in control.

After some LHC engineering problems were fixed, CERN’s (European Organization for Nuclear Research) LHC is now back to work starting to explore if the standard theory of how matter and energy holds up and how the universe was created? The LHC does this by smashing together a pair of particle beams that are shot around the circle in opposite directions at just shy of the speed of light. The resulting collision will produce showers of new particles, including, scientists hope, the illusive Higgs Boson particle.

Now if you were going to blast together TeVs of protons, which might create micro-black holes, and as one CERN scientist put it, if you somehow got in the way of the beam “It would be the equivalent of having 87kg (kilograms) of TNT dumped into your body,” which operating system would you want running the show? I’ll give you three guesses.

That’s right. The LHC runs on Linux. To be exact, its uses a modified version of Scientific Linux. Scientific Linux, in turn, is based on RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

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