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Researchers Just Made Groundbreaking Discovery Using Open Data From The Large Hadron Collider

Just 2 years, CERN unconfined the data from its impressive Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments onto an online accessible portal called the Open Data portal. It was an extraordinary action, letting those who don't have access to a particle accelerator use data from the LHC's experiments. It's not totally up-to-date.

There's a three-year restriction on results, so, normally speaking, the most recent data uploaded on this online portal is from the year 2014. This was the first time outcomes of any particle collider experiment have been made accessible to the public, and now it has led to another discovery.

About a week ago, a group of researchers from MIT published an article in Physical Review Letters that used data from the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), to clarify a feature within high-energy particle collisions. Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) is one of the LHC's main detectors. When protons hit at very high speeds, they discharge jets of quarks and gluons.

The MIT group was able to display, by means of CMS data, that the same equation can also calculate both the shape of these jets and the energy of the particles formed from a proton collision. Researchers suspected this was certainly the case, and now that theory has been confirmed.

This is groundbreaking because there's been a reluctance in particle physics to make data accessible publicly. Jesse Thaler, one of the researcher on the project, told, "The worry was, if you made the data public, then you would have people claiming evidence for new physics when actually it was just a glitch in how the detector was operating."

He continues to say that there was a firm arrogance that may have played into it as well: the confidence that, if in-house researchers couldn't make a discovery grounded on this data, then there was no way others could.

That's why this finding is so promising. The equation in and of itself isn't groundbreaking; it settles something most researchers already agreed with. But the point that the LHC's open data directed to a discovery outside the group is a big step.

Perhaps it will inspire other particle colliders to make their data accessible as well. Thaler said, "Our work here shows that we can understand in general how to use this open data, that it has scientific value, and that this can be a stepping stone to future analysis of more exotic possibilities."

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