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Letters From Indochina, 1952-54: The Tragic Story Of A 18 Year Old Enrolled In The Legion Etrangere

In 1952 my uncle Antonio, then 18 years old, left his family home in Venice, Italy to never return...

CMS Reports Evidence For Higgs Decays To B-Quark Pairs

Another chapter in the saga of the search for the elusive, but dominant, decay mode of the Higgs...

On Turtles, Book Writing, And Overcommitments

Back from vacations, I think I need to report a few random things before I get back into physics...

A Narrow Escape From The Cumbre Rucu Volcano

If I am alive, I probably owe it to my current very good physical shape.That does not mean I narrowly...

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Tommaso DorigoRSS Feed of this column.

Tommaso Dorigo is an experimental particle physicist, who works for the INFN at the University of Padova, and collaborates with the CMS experiment at the CERN LHC. He coordinates the European network... Read More »

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Do you remember the dijet mass bump found by CDF in W plus jets events ? That signal, whose significance exceeded four standard deviations, had everybody around go crazy for a while.
"A blind use of tail-area probabilities allows the statistician  to cheat, by claiming at a suitable point in a sequential  experiment that he has a train to catch. This must have been known to Khintchine when he proved in 1924 that, in sequential binomial sampling, a "sigmage" of nearly sqrt(2 log(log n)) is reached infinitely often, with probability 1. (Weaker results had been proved earlier by other mathematicians.) But note that the iterated logarithm increases with fabulous slowness, so that this particular objection to the use of tail-area probabilities is theoretical rather than practical.
As a 20-year-long (ok well, 19) member of the CDF collaboration, I am very proud of this wonderful experiments' accomplishments in all areas of high-energy physics, from exotic searches to Higgs searches, from top quark measurements to b-physics measurements, and what not. CDF is a landmark in experimental physics, and the longest-lasting physics experiment ever. But it is not foulproof - nobody is in this wild world of statistical flukes and impossible-to-unearth systematic effects.
While experimentalists gathered in Grenoble present the latest results on High-Energy Physics searches and measurements, phenomenologists like Sven Heinemeyer are working 24/7 to update the picture of the breathing space left for Supersymmetry, in the light of the most recent searches.

You of course do not need to be reminded that Supersymmetry is not a theory but a framework, within which a host of possible manifestations of subnuclear physics are configurable based on the value of 120-or-so free parameters. Because of that, if one wants to discuss in detail what are the most likely versions of SUSY left on the table, and what is the value of the most representative and critical theory parameters, one needs more than paper and pencil.
In the last few days I described in some detail (here and here) the six searches for the Standard Model Higgs boson just produced by CMS, the experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider to which I proudly belong.
In my short summary of analyses recently published by CMS, yesterday I left out one which had not yet been released. It is the search for the "golden channel" of Higgs decay, the one which motivated the construction of detectors with large acceptance to energetic leptons: the decay to two Z bosons, with a subsequent decay of the Z's to two charged leptons each.