Today, it seemed like everywhere I looked, people were geeking out about the new “Particles” iPad app.
‘The Particles’ iPad App Is a Physics Geek’s Dream:
The Particles, By Science Photo Library Ltd.
There seemed to be a lot of agreement that it is a truly gorgeous app (aesthetically and functionally) for which you don’t need to have an in-depth physics background to be able to learn quite a bit. There also seemed to be a misunderstanding going around that it was from CERN, and that somehow what you did with it supported CERN’s efforts.
When I found out that it costs about $8 and is not associated with CERN in any way, I was a little disappointed. I then went looking for apps that really ARE from CERN. CERN does have a new one released last week, but it is kind of boring unless you plan to visit. MapCERN is a tool for visitors to find their way around the CERN campus. Useful, but perhaps less than deeply engaging. CERN does have an engaging game app, called LHSee, but it is only available for the Android platform, and all I have right now is iOS devices. Then I found LHC Dash.
Now, LHC Dash has the potential to be REALLY fun, certainly engaging, but … I might not know enough to actually make the best use of it. What it does is basically serve as a dashboard for watching outputs from various research projects running around CERN in real time. It is configurable, as this image shows. There are four screens in the dashboard, each one with the potential to watch six experiments. One of them kept coming up blank, but when I tapped the name of that experiment, I was given a list from which to select something else to replace that blank space. I could select and sort experiments kind of like I organize my iPad screens, with related content all on the same page.
LHC Dash is not a new app — the first mention I saw was from @sciencegoddess back in 2011. It is still pretty geeky, though, even if it isn’t a game.
What I think of when I see it is ideas for how to use this concept for other ideas. The idea of a dashboard is really nothing new, of grabbing realtime data and monitoring it. While I hadn’t thought of it before, what I realized is that I would really like something like this as a kind of quantified self dashboard, something where I could configure panels to display and manage various inputs, data feeds, device feeds, etc., and perhaps run cross-correlations between them. Now, that could be phenomenally useful, especially if it was showing MY data about me. Wouldn’t every quantified selfer geek out about that? Who knows – maybe there is already such a thing.