If you have a phone or tablet that runs Google Android, you should check out the new LHSee app, released by the University of Oxford and available in the Android Market. Funded by the Science & Technology Facilities Council, the LHSee app delivers data from the ATLAS experiment at CERN directly to your handheld device. LHSee, released last week and currently in version 1.0, requires Android 2.2 and up and will need full Internet access. The new app is already a hit — it has a 4.5 star rating and 123 reviews in the Android Market.
ATLAS is a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. According to the ATLAS Experiment website:
"ATLAS will learn about the basic forces that have shaped our Universe since the beginning of time and that will determine its fate. Among the possible unknowns are the origin of mass, extra dimensions of space, unification of fundamental forces, and evidence for dark matter candidates in the Universe."
Who wouldn't want that on a smartphone?
The app downloaded quickly to my HTC Incredible, and nine buttons on the first screen display the app options: Explore the LHC, What is ATLAS?, ATLAS in 3D, Hunt the Higgs Boson, Stream 2-D Events, Stream 3-D Events, Web links, Credits, and Feedback. The first button, Explore the LHC, provides a text overview of the 27km-long accelerator and a Choose Video button. You can watch videos of colliding protons, the ATLAS detector assembly, or the origin of mass.
The next option, What is ATLAS, shows animations of what each part of the ATLAS detector is doing. Animations sections are Tracking, Calorimetry, Missing momentum, and Muons. This section will keep you interested as you explore the animations and their explanations, so your pigs might get a break from your Angry Birds for a while.
Next, check out a detailed view of ATLAS in 3D. You can manipulate the views, increase size, and so on. Click your phone's Menu button to hide endcaps, cut detectors in half, show a test event, and more.
In the Hunt the Higgs Boson section, select different events and try to answer the question, “Which event is this?” Muon, anti-muon, neutrino, positron? If these terms make perfect sense to you, this section might be a breeze. Otherwise, plan on learning something.
The coolest options are probably the stream 2-D and 3-D event buttons. If the detector is currently taking data, events collected in real time at the ATLAS detector are streamed live to your phone. How cool is that?
If the Android app leaves you hungry for more, visit the developer's website. There you'll find a link to the Particle Adventure, a Department of Energy and National Science Foundation-supported site that explains the fundaments of matter and force. Other links go to the Subatomic Venture page on the CERN site; the ATLAS page, which shows live events, photos, researcher blogs, and news; and ATLAS videos and games.
If there's another science app as cool as the LHSee, leave a comment and let us know about it. Until then, I'll be trying to figure out the answer to Which event is this?