Preparing for LHC data
Today's column is by Lothar Bauerdick, director of the CMS Center at Fermilab.
Pretty soon, according to schedule in May 2008, we will see the first beam in the LHC. Much difficult work is still ahead. So far, more than half of the 12,500-ton CMS detector has been lowered into the collision hall without accidents. Finishing this enormously complex task safely is our highest priority.
The CMS collaboration is busy preparing for data taking. We are commissioning the silicon tracker and other detector components using cosmic muons. It's exciting to see real data in the detector being displayed, reconstructed and analyzed.
In May, we started the monthly global data taking with the forward hadron calorimeter. This month, the global data taking already includes seven subdetector systems. Using our LHC@FNAL Remote Operations Center, which is located next to our cafeteria, we can monitor and analyze this data live.
This month, CMS began the 2007 Computing, Software and Analysis mock-data challenge. We are testing all steps of the CMS data processing chain using simulated data. The data is processed first at CERN and then transferred to the Tier-1 centers in various countries. The Tier-1 centers skim the data for physics signals and provide them to Tier-2 centers around the world. Fermilab has the largest CMS Tier-1 center, and our computing facilities are as "mission critical" for CMS as they are for our Tevatron experiments.
A recent power outage in the middle of our mock-data challenge allowed our Computing Division to test another critical part of our computing system: the backup power. Without power for cooling, the multi-megawatt computing room could overheat within seconds. But our facility team was well prepared. It safely switched to diesel generators and kept all systems up and running.
This week, you'll see a lot of LHC activity at Fermilab. The LHC Physics Center, led by Fermilab's Dan Green and Princeton's Chris Tully, will host a physics workshop. About 200 participants are coming to Fermilab to discuss and prepare for the start of the LHC.
All these activities are great opportunities for us to understand and prepare for the important role that Fermilab will play for the LHC and the CMS experiment. After more than a decade of preparations, we are looking forward to the first data!