The trial by fire that LHC programmers will be putting Globus through—and the modifications that emerge as a result—may be the first practical outgrowth of the LHC grid. If project scientists can tame massive, worldwide fields of networked data and computing cycles in particle physics, their solutions could well apply across the Internet—in much the same way that Berners-Lee's specialized HTML invention morphed into the very backbone of modern technological society.
Bader imagines future middleware allowing home computers to provide instant weather forecasts by accessing information from nearby environmental sensors. Or it might help sift through a life's accumulation of personal medical records or years of home video footage looking for dimly remembered events.
Ironically, CERN's next great contribution to the Internet could be all but transparent to the end user. In a perfect world, Globus or its successors would simply make everything on a given grid straightforwardly and transparently accessible from any computer. "If Globus is a success," Bader said, "then you won't hear about it."
*Correction (9/3/08): This article originally stated that the LHC will produce millions of snapshots of particle collisions; "millions" refers to the number of collisions, only a fraction of which will be recorded.