September 2008 Archives

Two Guys I'm Proud Of...

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I suppose that should be "Two guy of whom I'm proud" but does anyone really say that?

I've been coaching ice hockey for about 16 years now and I've coached the State College Varsity team for about six. Tonight I'm going to watch two guys participate in their first Penn State Blue/White Hockey Game. Kurt Collins played for me for 3 years, then played some Junior Hockey (or "Played Junior" as we say up North) and made the team this year. Dan Petrick went a less traditional route going from high school right to the Penn State Icers. Both of these first year guys will be in action along with State College alum and Penn State senior Andrew Magulick tonight at 9:15 at the Penn State Ice Rink. Dan and Kurt will be filling the gap left by State College's own (by way of Minnesota) Keith Jordan who finished his career with the Icers last year.

Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of most of the guys who have played for me over the years, but it's great to see our local guys playing at the next level.

Good Luck Dan, Kurt, and Andrew. I'll see you tonight!

First Beam?

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Tomorrow, September 10, 2008, the first beam of protons will travel around the 27 kilometer circular tunnel which is part of the latest, largest particle accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at CERN on the Swiss/French border. This will be the first full test of the controlling strength of the 1232 superconducting magnets which run the length of the tunnel. Just as astronomers call the first test of a telescope, "First Light," high energy physicists are calling this "First Beam."

I'm very interested in this as a physicist, but LHC also interests me as a physicist who happens to do IT. With its 15 petabyte/year (a petabyte is a million gigabytes) needs, LHC has been viewed as the harbinger of a new era of data acquisition and storage. LHC will not only advance particle physics, but storage, networking, and information science. Scientific American has an article about this including the last time CERN revolutionized information science (i.e. the World Wide Web). Wired Magazine devoted its July Issue to The Petabyte Age and the journal Nature just published a special section on "Big Data."

LHC is only the first in a new generation of petabyte devices which will strain our ability as IT professionals to support them. This growing list includes a few experiments/devices which involve Penn State faculty for example Advanced LIGO, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), and the new generation of medial imaging devices. Supporting these devices will require the coordinated efforts of ITS, Penn State Research, the University Libraries, and subject specialists.

We're at the beginning of a very long journey, but this is why I remain enthusiastic about my job and about Penn State.

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