During the past few months I have been giving seminars and colloquia in several institutes around Europe and the US. The topic was more or less always the same, i.e. the discovery criterion used in fundamental physics to decide whether to claim for the observation of a new phenomenon. We set this at 5-sigma -that's, e.g., how the Higgs boson has been discovered in 2012. This is an arbitrary choice, and there is a lot to learn from a study of the history of how the criterion became an established practice, and from the statistical issues it entails.
Here is a list of the past events:
- Oslo University, October 26
- LIP Lisbon, October 27
- SLAC laboratory, November 8
- Northwestern University, November 11
- Royal Holloway University London, November 30
- CERN (LHCb statistics forum), December 6
- DESY, Hamburg December 13
- DESY, Zeuthen December 14
- LPC Clermont Ferrand, December 16
Now I will give a similar presentation in three universities and research centers in Israel next week, and I would be happy to see as many of you there as possible... Here is the calendar:
- Tel Aviv University, January 1st
- Technion Haifa, January 2nd
- Weizmann Institute, January 5th
Later in January / February I will probably visit Oviedo, Valencia, GSI, and Irvine for the same purpose - so if you are in those areas I do hope you will show up to say hi. Or if you are elsewhere and wish to invite me to talk about the above topic, or something else related to that, or to present the book, do drop me a line!
Of course, while the topic of the seminar is centered on statistics for physics, the talk does tangentially involve the book I have published this month, "Anomaly! Collider Physics and the Quest for New Phenomena at Fermilab". The reason is that the book focuses on the history of some anomalous effects unearthed by the CDF experiment, discussing the complex way to publication of effects that created a conflict within the large collaboration. The finding of a consensus in those cases was a real problem, and by examining them in detail there is indeed a lot to learn about the sociology of science.
If you wish to read the book, you should hurry - at World Scientific they have a 35% discount off the (unfortunately steep) cover price. Please check it out at this web site.
Three More Chances To Meet