Physicists at the CERN particle physics laboratory in Europe have marked the facility's 60th birthday with music, but not just any tune -- they've converted science data from their Large Hadron Collider into a musical suite.
Using data from four detectors surrounding the giant atom smasher near Geneva, Switzerland, they've created an experimental piece, "LHChamber Music," to celebrate the breakthrough of finding the long-sought Higgs Boson, the "God particle" that gives all other particles their mass.
Composed by physicist-musician Domenico Vicinanza, the music was created using algorithms to "sonify" the data, mapping the values in the data -- specifically numbers of particle collision events per unit of mass -- to musical notes to show what a Higgs particle "sounds" like.
As the values increased or decreased, the pitch of the notes there were mapped to rose of fell accordingly.
"When I wrote this piece, I hoped it would be a metaphor for scientific collaboration; to demonstrate the vast and incredible effort these projects represent -- often between hundreds of people across many different continents," Vicinanza said.
The effort required the services of Europe's biggest grid of computers, knows as EGI, connecting the education and research communities of Europe in a data network dubbed GEANT.
The grid, combining the processing power of many computers across Europe, helped analyze the huge amount of Higgs data quickly
The resulting music piece celebrated CERN's discovery, announced on July 4, 2012, of a particle believed to be the Higgs boson, first hypothesized in the 1960s by British physicist Peter Higgs.
In 2013, after using the LHC to gather further data, CERN confirmed the new particle was, in fact, the Higgs, the final missing piece in the Standard Model long held to explain particle physics at the subatomic level.
Vicinanza's piece was performed Sept. 29 by musically-minded CERN scientist in the underground caverns housing the four detectors surrounding the LHC -- dubbed ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and LHCb.
The piece was performed on piano, xylophone, flute, marimba, double bass and percussion.
"We believe this musical interpretation of the LHC data will help people understand or at least 'feel' the complexity and beauty of the finding," its creators wrote on a CERN blog.
The "music" of the Higgs could let a blind scientist experience where the peak of the particle collisions exists in the data, they wrote, and appreciate the discovery.