The Say of the Week
    By Tommaso Dorigo | December 19th 2010 11:00 PM | 12 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Tommaso

    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

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    An expert is a man who has made all of the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.
    Niels Bohr


    So true. You learn from mistakes, maybe better than from success :)

    Time to switch fields in that case. Research consists of making mistakes that no one else has ever made before.

    I think Niels Bohr just wanted to present the making of mistakes as a virtue because he made so many of them. Personally, I think being right every so often should count for something too.
    Citizen Philosopher / Science Tutor
    Hi Tommaso,

    What the hell is Corriere saying this morning?

    (Sorry but this is in Italian)

    Would you like to comment?



    I'm sure that Guido must have been extremely careful in his wording (and indeed you may deduce from the quoted sentences that he wants to make a point that we have a *candidate* event but that we need many more of them before starting to suspect that the Higgs boson is really causing that).
    But no careful wording is sufficient against the power of biased editing :)
    The journalist wanted the news to sound as sexy as possible...

    (And the title is pure nonsense.)

    Thanks Andrea,

    I was sure of that as I follow this matter with a lot of attention and declarations like these from people working at LHC or Tevatron were never heard.

    With my limited Italian skills I would translate Guido Tonelli's statement as follows:

    Potrebbe essere proprio il bosone di Higgs che cerchiamo
    It could really be the Higgs boson we are looking for

    Il segnale che abbiamo raccolto ha tutte le caratteristiche teorizzate
    The signal we collected has all the theoretical characteristics

    I'm affraid these quotes won't pass as typical examples of extremely careful wording ...

    Oh yeah ? Well, I, for one, dear Andrea, could (if I wished) argue that Guido should have been more careful, and if I did I would be in the full right. You can always ask your interviewer to provide you with a draft of his article before he publish it. I have learned to do this the hard way, and now I never fail to put it as a necessary condition to agree talking with the media.

    I have to say, Guido is in the position of freely taking the decision to "overhype" something if he feels it is in the interest of CMS, and nobody can tell him this is against his mandate. But I wish that those who have spent time in the past criticizing me for what appeared in the media following my blogs or interviews would ponder on the issue.


    ... and to be specific, let me tell you that I was interviewed about that very event by Physics World  just about a month ago. I spent the better part of my evening in trying to explain to the interviewer that what we were seeing was most likely NOT a Higgs boson production but a plain ZZ production, and that the interest was all in the fact that as we start to see those events we know we are on the right track for the Higgs search.

    I spent another half hour in making sure he understood what it meant when I said that the probability to have observed at least one ZZ candidate was xx%. It required me to explain that if a hundred similar collaborations in as many planets far away had done the same search, xx of them would have seen at least something that interesting...

    I then got to read the draft and correct it. If I find the final outcome I will post it here.

    This really should be ``The saying of the week,'' not ``The say of the week.''

    Vladimir Kalitvianski
    And how is called an expert who is afraid of making mistakes?
    Vladimir Kalitvianski
    (The right answer: Lumosh Bottl.)