Open Source: A Platform for Innovation

Mark Hinkle | Wired | November 13, 2013

This year the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Peter W. Higgs and François Englebert “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles” referred to as the Higgs boson. However, the theory of the existence of the Higgs boson was hatched almost 50 years ago. The limiting factor until recently for the discovery had been the environment for conducting experiments and measuring the results to confirm theory. The creation of the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that went live in 2008 allowed experiments to be conducted to create the collisions in a controlled environment where they could be observed and data could be collected.

There was one additional problem. There was no way for physicists to adequately address the 30 petabytes of data collected annually from the LCH. It was the big date equivalent of trying to find a needle in a massive haystack. The answer lied within the creation of a worldwide network that allows thousands of physicists to collaborate. That network is built on open source software: Scientific Linux, Apache Hadoop and countless other programs that have enabled them to analyze what before was an insurmountable amount of data.

...Open source software is an enabler for a variety of problems. The huge toolbox of open source software is providing accessible technologies to a variety of services. Beyond that the processes established by the software industry for mass collaboration are providing the blue print for other industries to jointly solve big problems.

...One of the most transformative platforms for innovation is open source. The solution to helping solve problems in the world not just technology problems but social and political problems can and should benefit from open source.