"An illustration of the confusion about the tau is provided by two editions of a popular book on particle physics by Nigel calder entitled The Key to the Universe. In the first edition Calder wrote:

Martin Perl and his colleagues detected peculiar events occurring in SPEAR. From the scene of collision an electron and a heavy electron (the well-known muon) carrying opposite electric charges were ejected at the same moment without any other detectable particles coming out. No conventional process, involving conventional particles, could account for such events.
Everyday use of a mathematical concept

The concept of probability is not alien to even the least mathematically versed among us: even those who do not remember the basic math they had in primary schools use it currently in their daily reasoning. I find the liberal use of the word "probability" (and derivates) in common language interesting, for two reasons. One, because the word has in fact a very definite mathematical connotation. And two, because the word is often used to discuss the knowledge of a system's evolution in time without a clear notion of which, among either of two strikingly different sources, is the cause of our partial or total ignorance.
Well, it is now official, so I thought I would let my blog know about it too: I am honored to announce that I was chosen to serve in the CMS Statistics Committee. Along with eight highly distinguished colleagues, I will work for at least the next two years in a group that will take care of ensuring the accuracy of all results that our 2500-strong collaboration will produce.

CMS is one of the two high-energy physics experiments designed to study the proton-proton collisions delivered by the LHC, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. The machine is expected to start data-taking in November this year.
Mathematical functions are all around us. We may not realize it but they are there! Check it out on the pictures below.

A blade of light, selected by the venetian blinds of my living room window, draws a curved, complicated, multiple-valued function on the semi-transparent orange curtains. Maybe the curve below is even more fascinating:
In Control

In Control

Sep 22 2009 | 14 comment(s)

Most of us like to be in control: of what happens around us, of our own feelings, of our actions, of the actions and well-being of our beloved ones. Being in control means feeling secure, unthreatened. It is the prevalence of order on chaos. And chaos, I have grown to realize, is one of the things that scares me most. Yes, I am a true control freak.
"17.35 Shot setup begins.
18.07 Loading final protons.
18.20 Loading pbars.
18.48 Preparing to ramp.
18.50 Ramping.
18.52 Jacking.
18.53 Squeezing.
18.56 Initiating collisions.
18.57 Ramping."

(From Fermilab's Main Control Room logbook today)
The question of what will the next discovery at Fermilab be was asked in the thread of a recent article, and I initially answered it there, but then thought that expanding my answer makes excellent material for an independent article. Therefore, below I have tried to put together my own personal list of the places from where a unexpected new Tevatron discovery may come and hit us, in the near future.
I am spending my time in the CDF Control Room this week (seven days, from 4PM to midnight), as a Scientific Coordinator. My job is to work with my crew to ensure that the experiment collects good data as efficiently as possible. The data I am talking about is, of course, provided by our glorious accelerator, the Tevatron collider. Today I will tell you how the Tevatron is doing these days, and doing that will prepare the ground to my suggestion that you should become a fan of this wonderful machine.

A short introduction
I was notified today that within three weeks I am due to write a proceedings article for the "Physics in Collision" conference I attended in Kobe two weeks ago. The task is not too stimulating for me, given that the material it has to cover just consists in projections of the discovery reach of the Higgs boson, based on simulated data; but to add unexcitement to the whole thing, I found out that I am bound to stay within the limit of two pages of text.
In order to be able to perform unescorted access to areas where ionizing radiations are present, and to work with and use radioactive materials, workers at Fermilab have to pass a specific training which enables them to recognize the dangers and work safely, minimizing the radiation dose they get by performing their activities, and reducing the spread of contamination to the environment.