We Need to Learn How to Throw Away Data

August 7, 2014 5:08 PM

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We Need to Learn How to Throw Away Data

As an experimental particle physicist working at the Large Hadron Collider, learning to handle large amounts of data is a necessary skill. In addition, one needs to learn how to differentiate between something that is useful and something that is not. This is similar to what most of us have to do to live our lives every day. To find the Higgs boson, we were looking for a very small signal in a huge amount of background (or noise). So the goal was to sift through the data to throw away the background and find the signal. Sometimes you know what signal you are looking for and sometimes you don't.

In our field, advances have been made that allow us to take more data and record it (we take a snapshot of what is in our detector almost a billion times a second). Our detector (camera) has a 100 Mega pixel image which can be compared to a digital camera with 5-10 Mega pixels which can take about 2...

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