Belonging in Technology: Discovering the Humanity of Advanced Research Computing

In 2012, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider confirmed that they had found a new subatomic particle. Thanks to the media, it was not only the scientific community that was abuzz with excitement. The internet, talk shows, radio - everyone was talking about the Higgs boson. 

There is no doubt that the study and understanding of particles like the Higgs Boson is difficult, complex and requires intense computational resources. But it is a fascinating exercise to compare the study of individual particles with the study of individual people - and there is no contest as to which is harder to understand and predict! 

The introduction of the study of humanity to the world of advanced research computing has changed both computing and the Humanities forever. There can be no doubt that not only do they belong together, they need each other. How can we hope to stretch and grow our understanding of ourselves if we hold back from utilizing the most advanced digital technology in the study of humanity? How can we hope to stretch and grow the technology itself if we don’t use it to study our world’s most complex problems?  

In December 2020, the first Covid-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use - only one year after the virus was first identified. It was truly an amazing feat of science, and the best minds and most advanced tools in the world were used to accelerate its creation. It was a hard lesson to learn that vaccinating the world does not just involve having an effective vaccine - it also involves the people being vaccinated. People are complex, unpredictable and far less understood than any virus. 

At ACENET, the accessibility of advanced research computing to all disciplines continues to be a priority because we understand that global problems cannot be solved by only understanding the world. We must also consider, and understand, the people who live here.

Contact us at if you'd like to discuss your research project.

Editor’s note: 
Lydia Vermeyden joined ACENET in 2020 as our Humanities and Social Sciences Research Consultant. She worked passionately for two years to help researchers in those fields understand and take advantage of the opportunities advanced computing tools provide them to enrich their current research and open new paths of inquiry. Following a role as Training Specialist with the Digital Research Alliance of Canada, Lydia rejoined ACENET in 2023 part time as Manager of Special Initiatives, spending the balance of her time with Calcul Québec.