CERN took the route of NASA in reaching out to the public as its scientists participated in an open discussion on Reddit recently, called “Open Science, Open Data & More”.
The two-hour “Ask Me Anything” session saw researchers from across CERN departments and experiments take questions about Open Science and the Open Data Portal that CERN launched last month.
The CERN new portal makes public the data from experiments at the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), along with the software and documentation needed to analyse them.
The LHC experiments ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb contributed samples of their data to the Portal for educational use, while CMS also made public some 27 terabytes of high-level data recorded from collisions in the LHC.
The Portal adheres to established global standards in data preservation and Open Science: the products are shared under open licences and they are issued with a digital object identifier (DOI) to make them citable objects in the scientific discourse.
“As a sysadmin for an ATLAS Tier 2 site, the launch of the Data Portal makes me even prouder to be a part of CERN Science,” wrote one reddit user.
But contributors wanted to know more about the timeline and implementation of the project, which gave CERN researchers a chance to discuss Portal in detail.
Over 400 comments were submitted during the live discussion, with questions ranging from “What is the next goal of the LHC?” to “What did you want to be when you were nine?”. Redditors covered topics from the intricacies of the Open Access system, to technical details of CERN experiments, exotic particle physics and even the atmosphere in the CERN cafeteria, revealed the scientific agency.
“There was an overwhelming response on social media to the launch of the Open Data Portal” explains Kate Kahle, CERN’s social-media manager. “So the AMA session, organised by CMS communicator Achintya Rao, gave the CERN people behind this release a chance to engage with the interested public online to answer their questions and explain more about CERN open data and open access.”