In 2004 three physicists decided to dabble in a field they knew little about. Within weeks they had developed a new technique that transforms weeks' worth of computer calculations into something that could be done on a single page in an hour. It's used in particle accelerators such as the LHC at CERN.
String theory has one very unique consequence that no other theory of physics before has had: it predicts the number of dimensions of space-time. But where are these other dimensions hiding and will we ever observe them?
"It's a great day for particle physics," says Ben Allanach, a theoretical physicist at the University of Cambridge. "It's very exciting, I think we're on the verge of the Higgs discovery." And indeed, it seems like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has given particle physics an early Christmas present — compelling evidence that the famous Higgs boson exists.
Here's your chance to venture to the frontiers of physics using your very own computer. This week CERN began public testing of LHC@home 2.0, a project that enlists the computing power of volunteers from around the world to help simulate high-energy collisions of protons in the LHC.