A summer of (physics) code

Anyone in the world with a computer can contribute to research at CERN. Through the LHC@Home project, volunteers can offer up spare computing power to simulate and process collisions happening inside the Large Hadron Collider.

CERN recently improved the program with a new feature that helps scientists monitor the system that distributes work among volunteers’ computers. But the new feature is not the work of a CERN employee; it is the work of a college undergraduate who had the chance to work with CERN through the 2012 Google Summer of Code.

“It’s a really nice concept,” says Josip Lisec, a third-year student at the University of Zagreb in Croatia who worked on the improvement, which is known as Co-Pilot Monitor. “You’re pretty sure that the code you wrote during the summer will be put to use. And you learn a lot working with people on large projects.”

Seven Summer of Code students from across the globe spent the summer writing code for CERN. Their projects will do everything from improving Large Hadron Collider-related software to making CERN information more accessible to a general audience. Projects have to be open-source to be eligible, meaning the code has to be available to anyone who wants to see it or work with it.

Students can submit project applications to a long list of organizations compiled by Google. Once accepted, they are connected with a mentor who guides them through their project. Students at CERN were expected to work around 40 hours a week during a three month stretch, for which Google rewarded them with $5,000.

This article originally appeared in Symmetry magazine. Read the full article here.