ATLAS@Home looks for CERN volunteers

ATLAS@Home is a CERN volunteer computing project that runs simulated ATLAS events. As the project ramps up, the project team is looking for CERN volunteers to test the system before planning a bigger promotion for the public.


The ATLAS@home outreach website.

ATLAS@Home is a large-scale research project that runs ATLAS experiment simulation software inside virtual machines hosted by volunteer computers. “People from all over the world offer up their computers’ idle time to run simulation programmes to help physicists extract information from the large amount of data collected by the detector,” explains Claire Adam Bourdarios of the ATLAS@Home project. “The ATLAS@Home project aims to extrapolate the Standard Model at a higher energy and explore what new physics may look like. Everything we’re currently running is preparation for next year's run.”

ATLAS@Home became an official BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) project in May 2014. After a beta test with SUSY events and Z decays, real production started in the summer with inelastic proton-proton interaction events. Since then, the community has grown remarkably and now includes over 10,000 volunteers spread across five continents. “We’re running the full ATLAS simulation and the resulting output files containing the simulated events are integrated with the experiment standard distributed production,” says Bourdarios.

Compared to other LHC@Home projects, ATLAS@Home is heavier in terms of network traffic and memory requirements. “From the start, we have been successfully challenging the underlying infrastructure of LHC@Home," says Bourdarios. "Now we’re looking for CERN volunteers to go one step further before doing a bigger public promotion.”

This simulated event display is created using ATLAS data.

If you want to join the community and help the ATLAS experiment, you just need to download and run the necessary free software, VirtualBox and BOINC, which are available on NICE. Find out more about the project and how to join on the ATLAS@Home outreach website.

“This project has huge outreach potential,” adds Bourdarios. “We hope to demonstrate how big discoveries are often unexpected deviations from existing models. This is why we need simulations. We’re also working on an event display, so that people can learn more about the events they have been producing and capture an image of what they have done.”

If you have any questions about the ATLAS@Home project, e-mail

by Rosaria Marraffino