Research into e-Science reached a milestone in the UK today [Thursday 25
April] when Gordon Brown, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, opened The
National e-Science Centre in Scotland. The centre, run jointly by the
Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, will provide a focal point for the
UK’s involvement in e-Science initiatives and integrate closely with the
highly advanced computing projects being spearheaded by the Particle Physics
and Astronomy Research Council [PPARC].

Prof. Ian Halliday, PPARC Chief Executive, welcomed the opening and said,
‘PPARC is investing 26 million in e-Science technology that will create the
GRID – a sophisticated ‘distributed computing’ and infrastructure technology
for our science base. The GRID is about enabling collaboration and will
allow a computer user, an individual or group of scientists, in one location
to harness additional processing power, or access raw data, in an entirely
different geographic location in order to manipulate and interrogate the
vast amounts of information generated by experiments in particle physics and

In astronomy PPARC is developing the AstroGrid, a virtual observatory
programme that will store and share vast amounts of astronomical data. New
telescopes being brought online in 2003 and 2005 will generate hundreds of
Gigabytes of data every night. AstroGrid will develop the tools needed to
process this information and share it between a network of international
users. It will also develop a new system of accessing existing archives of
astronomical information, enabling astronomers to call up information on a
particular area of the sky and search through all the existing data on that
area recorded by different ground and space-based telescopes. AstroGrid is
collaborating closely with similar projects in Europe and the USA to create
a world-wide Virtual Observatory.

Similarly in particle physics PPARC is developing the GridPP programme that
will ensure the UK can exploit the data produced by the Large Hadron
Collider (LHC) experiment currently under construction at CERN in Geneva.
Particle physics experiments involve extremely large volumes of data as
currently shown by the BaBar experiment at the Stanford Linear Accelerator
Centre in the US, in which the UK is playing a major role. To date BaBar has
recorded or simulated 600 million particle physics events, accumulating over
500 Terabytes of information. The LHC will create even greater volumes of
data. GridPP technology developments also contribute to the EU-DataGrid, a
European wide project that aims to develop and demonstrate the
infrastructure that will allow scientists to collaborate in sharing
information and instruments, regardless of geographical location. In
addition, GridPP has close links with related US projects.

Halliday added, ‘The human aspect to implementing e-Science is a vital
ingredient in achieving this technology and PPARC have awarded 10 e-Science
studentships in 2001 and again in 2002. A further 10 are planned for 2003’.

Notes for Editors

The manipulation and data handling needs of scientific research have long
been a driver for developments in computing. A British computer scientist at
CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, created the World Wide Web
(WWW) in order to share information with a global network of collaborative
particle physicists. New experiments currently under development, and
planned for future, require unprecedented levels of computer processing
power to handle, interrogate and manipulate the vast amounts of a data that
will be generated. Additionally, scientific projects are increasingly
global in nature, involving large international collaborations of
scientists, which in turn require significantly increased data sharing

PPARC is co-ordinating several E-Science projects to develop the required
GRID infrastructure, ranging in scope from national initiatives to European
wide and international projects.

The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the UK’s
strategic science investment agency. It funds research, education and public
understanding in four areas of science – particle physics, astronomy,
cosmology and space science.

PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to
scientists in British universities, gives researchers access to world-class
facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the
European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), and the European Space
Agency. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La
Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at
the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility,
which includes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank observatory.

PPARC’s Public Understanding of Science and Technology Awards Scheme funds
both small local projects and national initiatives aimed at improving public
understanding of its areas of science.