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Even the most boring collisions at the Large Hadron Collider tell us something – this time about cosmic rays

At the CERN Large Hadron Collider we spend a lot of time and effort trying to filter out the common collisions, so we can focus on the rare events. But even the supposedly dull stuff is helping to resolve some key questions about our universe.

By the time it finished its first run, at the end of 2012, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN was providing about 500 million proton-proton collisions per second to each of the two largest particle detectors, ATLAS and CMS. When it resumes operation in 2015, it will produce collisions at even higher rates. Because of this, those of us wishing to record and analyse the data have to be very selective about which events we are going to save. We spend a lot of time and effort trying to filter out the common collisions, so we can focus on the rare events, when a Higgs Boson, or something else amazing, is produced. But even the supposedly dull stuff is helping to resolve some key questions about our universe.

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