Tux and the God Particle

CERN team member gives Linux a shout out

Linux is getting some credit from at least one CERN staff member for its participation in the tentatively successful find of the Higgs Boson particle this week.

CERN scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) announced yesterday that the 45-year search for the particle, which will fill in a vital piece of the Standard Model that is used to describe the workings of the observable universe, may have finally culminated in success.

One CERN physicist, though, went out of his way to give Linux some credit where credit is due, and posted a complimentary thanks to the operating system on Reddit.

"I don't see any CERN related things here, so I want to mention how Linux (specifically, Scientific Linux and Ubuntu) had a vital role in the discovery of the new boson at CERN," wrote Reddit user d3pd. "We use it every day in our analyses, together with hosts of open software, such as ROOT, and it plays a major role in the running of our networks of computers (in the grid etc.) used for the intensive work in our calculations."

It is not exactly known who d3pd is, but D3PD is the name of one CERN project that is highly connected to the ROOT program mentioned by this Reddit user. D3PD Makermp;confId=75247) is a software project developed by Fermilab physicist Scott Snyder.

Regardless of the identity of d3pd, it's clear this is someone who appreciates Linux quite a bit.

"Yesterday's extremely important discovery has given us new information about how reality works at a very fundamental level and this is one physicist throwing Linux some love," the Reddit member wrote.

When asked by other Reddit users on specifics about the use of Linux and why it was so important to the project, d3pd gave a detailed response.

"In terms of data analysis, Windows could be used in principle. We could also use some type of device that manipulates symbols on a strip of tape according to a simple table of rules. Linux is used because it is most appropriate for the job. Linux is ubiquitous in HPC and we use a lot of computing power in LHC physics, so the arguments for the use of Linux in HPC are very similar to the arguments for the use of Linux in LHC physics analyses," d3pd stated.

While the expertise in computing is not as large as this user's skills in high-energy physics, the CERN physicist was able to sum up the overall impact of Linux to the Higgs boson discovery.

"I work primarily in physics, not in computing, so I doubt that I am able to argue very competently for Linux over something such as BSD. The fact is that Linux was the operating system used in the overwhelming majority of the analyses contributing to the discovery, so, in that sense I think I am justified in claiming that Linux played a vital role in the discovery."

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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