The Higgs Boson Will Make You Dance

The Higgs Boson Will Make You Dance

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You just found me, and this is crazy. But here's my signal, so call me Higgsy.

When the Higgs boson was tentatively discovered by those Swiss brainiacs at CERN, proponents of Higgsless models (explanations of the universe that don't rely on that stuffy ol' Peter Higgs or his upstart hypothetical particle) were predictably disappointed. But before Team Higgsless could curse the defenseless scalar particle too loudly, a team of ASTRA researchers discovered a way to make the popular boson even more likable than it already was, assuring that no one could remain angry with it for long. So how did they accomplish such a particulate PR coup? Domenico Vicinanza, product manager at Dante (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe), sonified the particles' data, converting its very existence into a catchy downloadable .mp3.

The resulting song, which you can listen to here, carries what's perhaps an unsurprisingly lively tune that will get everyone from François Englert to Gerald Guralnik generating non-abelian gauge vector fields to the beat. Domenico Vicinanza explains how something so small and unstable can pack so much boogey.

"Sonification worked by attaching a musical note to each data. So, when you hear the resulting melody you really are hearing the data," he said. "In this way any regularity in the scientific data can be naturally mapped to the melody: if the data are periodic (they are marked by a repeated cycle) the sonification will be a music melody which will have the same periodicity and regularity."

Now, this habanera rhythm may sound simple to you, but it's actually the product of a massive European high-speed research system that strung together smaller networks (including the GEANT, which offered up 40Gbps worth of processing power) to feed Vicinanza's project the absolutely ginormous amount of computation required to assemble the notes. Essentially, his team used the network to map continuous intervals between data values to create the melody, altering the pitch parallel to the intensity (or lack thereof) of each variable. Each semiquaver relates to an increase of 5 GeV during CERN's tests, which spiked to 126 GeV during the actual discovery. In the song, you can hear this event (about 3.5 seconds in) as expressed by a peaking series of notes: F, C, and E. It's highly doubtful there was any better use for Europe's most powerful super computer network during the window in which this song was so meticulously constructed.

Vicinanza went on to claim that "by using sonification, [he was] able to make this breakthrough easier to understand by the general public." I don't know about you, but once I listened through all 42 seconds of Vicinanza's work (bobbing my head all the while), I couldn't help but be struck by the revelation that the Higgs boson is a byproduct of the mechanism by which other elementary particles obtain mass from within a ubiquitous quantum field in open space. It makes me wonder what other complex areas of theoretical physics could be better explained in orchestral form.

Source: Discovery.com

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Wait a second, the original data is just the piano track. As far as I can tell, the marimbas and that are just added in fluff to make a string of semirandom notes sound better.

Sorry, not yet convinced the universe has musical taste.

I get the feeling that science nerds are trying to prank the general public...

Formica Archonis:
Wait a second, the original data is just the piano track. As far as I can tell, the marimbas and that are just added in fluff to make a string of semirandom notes sound better.

Sorry, not yet convinced the universe has musical taste.

i dunno, i feel the melody carries a very decrescendo feeling thru out, interspaced with lively peaks to spice up the flow.

I think I just found my new ringtone.

Higgs gaves mass and form to you,
Gave mass and form to you,
Gave mass and for-orm to everyone!

So have they confirmed that it is the Higgs yet or not?

Terratina.:
So have they confirmed that it is the Higgs yet or not?

No, last I heard they haven't got anything that could be called confirmation yet, this stuff is kinda tricky to prove. You would have to both A) make sure the machine was working properly, and B) Replicate it, just to prove the partical actually exists, nevermind that it is what they think it is.

Still I wouldn't deny it just yet.

Damn, that's catchy

Terratina.:
So have they confirmed that it is the Higgs yet or not?

Basically, they have proven the existence of a particle that could fit the profile of the Higgs. Searching for the Higgs is essentially a series of dice rolls in which they detect high signals of decay after smashing particles in the LHC. When multiple science teams independently find a similar anomaly that produces a signal above the threshold of error, they compare notes. So, a bump in the data shows that there is something with considerable mass showing up, but there are two additional particles that could also be to blame. Basically, we'll have to wait for additional tests to find out more.

Mike Kayatta:
-Snip-

theheroofaction:
-Snip-

Thank you, both of you. Whether it is the Higgs or not is the only important thing with these current Higgs new stories. Personally, I don't think people should be shouting "Higgs, Higgs!" when it hasn't been confirm yet, from a technical standpoint. But that doesn't mean that the fact that the scientists seem to be closing in on it is any less of an achievement.

I didn't understand any of that.
mite b cool tho.

Have they "Sonified" other particles? If so, I bet certain quarks sound strange.

this is how Jonathan Coulton should have written/played "Still Alive"

Dear god they found the thing that gives us mass! Soon, anti-gravity boots!

can't believe it was just discovered last week today.

Lumber Barber:
I didn't understand any of that.
mite b cool tho.

I don't know about you but I'm just here for the free beer and pizza.

>_>

The universe likes new age free-form jazz? Well thats kind of fitting i suppose.

Keneth:
Have they "Sonified" other particles? If so, I bet certain quarks sound strange.

I see what you did there.

Terratina.:

Mike Kayatta:
-Snip-

theheroofaction:
-Snip-

Thank you, both of you. Whether it is the Higgs or not is the only important thing with these current Higgs new stories. Personally, I don't think people should be shouting "Higgs, Higgs!" when it hasn't been confirm yet, from a technical standpoint. But that doesn't mean that the fact that the scientists seem to be closing in on it is any less of an achievement.

For the most part, CERN would agree with you. Unfortunately, the headline "They found the Higgs!" gets more readers than "A particle was detected that has the expected energy of the Higgs".

This is what happened recently with the Gran Sasso experiment, which unfortunately still has a lot of people thinking that particles were measured traveling faster than light. The scientists were very cautious about their language, the journalists were not. In the end it turned out that the result of the experiment was an error and that those neutrinos did not travel faster than light, but for some reason the journalists didn't feel as compelled to spread THAT story.

This sort of thing sometimes leads people to think scientists don't know what they're doing. I would prefer that opinions on the professionalism of scientists were not impacted by the actual professionalism (or lack thereof) of journalists, but that's the society we live in.

So the secret of the universe was.... music?

Who would have guessed. Also, hitchhiker reference. Science high five!

Ahhh...that's quite the beautiful man-applied-sound that new possibly Higgs makes.

Keneth:
Have they "Sonified" other particles? If so, I bet certain quarks sound strange.

I want down quarks to be a heavy bass line.

Keneth:
Have they "Sonified" other particles? If so, I bet certain quarks sound strange.

I bet its up beat, it'd have a certain charm to it.

I read Dirk Gently just last week, so this is doubly amusing. Adams was prescient, I tell you.

Mike Kayatta:

The resulting song, which you can listen to here, carries what's perhaps an unsurprisingly lively tune that will get everyone from François Englert to Gerald Guralnik generating non-abelian gauge vector fields to the beat. Domenico Vicinanza explains how something so small and unstable can pack so much boogey.

That is amazing!, there is a God!, the higgs boson is so allusive you have to look right at it baby, what is its atomic number?

My Scientist friend told me trying to find it was like throwing a wish into a well, not to mention since they don't know how it acts they don't know where its going.

Aaaand ring-tone acquired.

Then again, for all I know of physics (read: fuck-all) it could tear the arse out of the universe every time someone rings me all the way to voice-mail.

42 seconds huh?

...42

That can't be a coincidence.

This is pretty cool though, gonna save this one.

DVS BSTrD:
Higgs gaves mass and form to you,
Gave mass and form to you,
Gave mass and for-orm to everyone!

Nice... :D

OT: I can't hear it at the moment, but am looking forward to soon! :D

Sounds like music they would have in one of the Sims games, huh.

hmmmm... doesn't make me want to dance. however am kinda tempted to get high creative and make a remix trance version of it...

It sounds like the background music for an Apple commercial.

I smell a sequel to Electroplankton coming. Electro-planck-ton anyone?

NewYork_Comedian:
Sounds like music they would have in one of the Sims games, huh.

That's exactly what I was thinking.
Im still confused as hell though.
I feel like I'm playing a fallout game with low intelligence right now.

 

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