My statistics page depressingly shows that a large fraction of readers who visit this site do so for an average of 30 seconds. Maybe they were looking for something different, or maybe they do not like the content offered here. In any case, I have decided that my long, detailed articles about particle physics are not exactly meeting the demand of the audience. I am not going to change my writing style because of that, of course, but I will try to also offer some thirty-seconds physics bits here, every once in a while. So let me make a dry run, using a recent result by the CDF collaboration. The clock may start.
"A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere".
Mariano Crociata: a name, a promise. The general secretary of CEI (the Italian Episcopal Conference) secures a spot in the front page of Italian newspapers today by declaring that pharmacists in Italy should be allowed to object to the distribution of pharmaceuticals enabling " clearly immoral choices", like abortion. I wonder why he stopped short of asking for the removal of condoms from the counters. Hmmm, let me guess: a sudden change of mind about birth control ? Or just the knowledge that it would be too large an economical loss for pharmacy owners to self-flagellate that way ?
Ready for another turn into National-Enquirer mode of particle physics reporting ? I have a figure to discuss. It is a result now a few months old, but one which received little attention -less than it should have, perhaps. I myself got to see it only a few weeks ago in a presentation given by Jacobo Konigsberg, CDF spokesperson, at a workshop in Bologna.
The scandalistic cut of this article is manifest in the title: facing a dearth of exciting reports of new physics discoveries, we are bound to now and then swerve off the path of our usual responsible handling of two-sigma effects, odd deviations, and assorted zoology. It is, I believe, a necessary resource to rely on, if we are to keep the interest of Science readers on particle physics.
A friend told me this funny anecdote about the construction of a part of the inner tracker of the CDF detector called "ISL", the so-called "intermediate silicon layers" which were constructed in Italy and then sent to Fermilab for installation in the core of CDF.
A technician reports: "When we were finished with the construction and we had to move to Fermilab to install the device, he took extreme care to arrange the shipment of the expensive, sensitive device overseas in three parts, with three separate cargos, such that if a plane had an accident, we would only lose a third of the detector.
...However, he sent us (all the technicians who had done the assembly, and were now needed at Fermilab for the installation) all in the same plane!"