Explaining the bang: Stanford center defines new objectives

Scientists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center are filling their databases mostly with information from BaBar, an experiment named for the fictional elephant of children's literature. They are creating subatomic particles called B-Mesons and their antimatter equivalents, and then colliding them into one another.

When the universe began, matter and antimatter should have quickly eliminated each other, said Richard Mount, director of SLAC's Computing Services and assistant director of SLAC's Research Division. A matter-filled universe suggests that there was an asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the beginning. BaBar is intended to help explain why that imbalance existed. "This is an excellent system for studying the small asymmetries between matter and antimatter," he said. "When we create [the particles], we certainly believe they are created in equal numbers, but as they travel across space they can change into each other at slightly different rates until we see an asymmetry that we can measure here." The collisions generate great amounts of data, but much of it is expected and can be dismissed as noise, Mount said. The remaining data is about 25 kilobytes per explosion, which has added up to a petabyte since SLAC began using a database from Objectivity Inc. in 1999.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group