| Prof Bikash Sinha. A Telegraph picture
Two city institutes are providing the computing backbone for one of the most important experiments in fundamental physics to be conducted in Geneva by CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.
The Multiplexed Analogue Signal Processor (MANAS) to be used by the European agency to explore the birth of matter has been produced by the Salt Lake-based Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) and Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC).
“India is known for software designing, but not for developing hardware. With this, we are taking the first step towards using indigenous technology of chip designing,” said Bikash Sinha, director, VECC, on Monday.
The CERN’s experiment will explore the “quark gluon plasma” that existed a microsecond after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago by recreating a ‘mini bang’. “The experiment will help us trace the evolution of the universe,” added Sinha.
The processor, produced at VECC, was designed at SINP and fabricated at Semi Conductor Complex Limited in Chandigarh. Aligarh Muslim University is also a part of the project.Around 110,000 microprocessors have been delivered to CERN in January this year. “Very few people believed that it could be done in India and we were competing against the best brains of the world,” said Sukalyan Chattopadhyay, who is heading the project to produce MANAS.
For those working on the project, it was the romance of discovery that drove them on. They hope to raise intellectual curiosity among young minds.
The scientists are eager to find applicability of MANAS in other spheres. “Discovery is not an ivory tower. It has day-to-day ramifications. Once a discovery is made, its applications have to be found,” pointed out Sinha.
The chip, which has production cost of $10 each, can be used in scanners.