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Prescaled Jet Triggers: The Rationale Of Randomly Picking Events

In a chapter of the book I have written, "Anomaly! - Collider physics and the quest for new phenomena...

Catching The 750 GeV Boson With Roman Pots ?!

I am told by a TOTEM manager that this is public news and so it can be blogged about - so here...

Scavenging LHC Data: The CMS Data Scouting Technique

With the Large Hadron Collider now finally up and running after the unfortunate weasel incident...

A Statistics Session At A Particle Physics Conference ?

The twelfth edition of “Quark Confinement and the Hadron Spectrum“, a particle physics conference...

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Tommaso DorigoRSS Feed of this column.

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 telescope at faint galaxies.... Read More »

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I just read with interest some slides portraying the situation of male/female differences in the employment at the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics, the institute I myself work for. I do not wish to make a summary here, but just paste a graph which I find interesting. The graph compares male and female employment in the University with the one in the INFN, for corresponding levels of employment.
At PhyStat 2011, currently being held at CERN, talks are informal and the atmosphere is friendly, but I have heard very few jokes from the participants so far. Just a minute ago I witnessed what might be a pretty strong bid at the best joke of the conference.

Kyle Cranmer was showing results of very CPU-intensive calculations of renormalization-group equations used to derive measurable parameters of Supersymmetry from the value of basic parameters at a high-energy scale. He was mentioning that the original calculation used to take 720 CPU-days, but that they had found a series of shortcuts using neural networks, and the result was a huge improvement in speed: this was now a 1-minute calculation!
Looks like particle physicists have finally digested the food of Christmas break by now. Just as I was reviewing a new paper on the arxiv on the Tevatron Higgs limits, I ran into another hot preprint, titled "The Reactor Antineutrino Anomaly".
While listening to highly interesting talks on cutting-edge statistical issues at PHYSTAT 2011, I have casually been reading this morning a paper recently posted on the arxiv, which was pointed out to me by a Cypriot friend, Alex (thanks, Alex!).

The authors (J. Baglio, A. Djouadi, S. Ferrag,
When physicists working in a collaboration want to publish the observation of a new effect in the data, they need to first convince their peer that what they are observing is real, and not the product of a weird fluctuation.

Statistical fluctuations are everywhere, and they sometimes do produce weird results. We are only human, and when facing unlikely fluctuations we are invariably tempted to interpret them as the manifestation of something new and unknown.
Thanks to the Tevatron Facebook account manager, R.M. (Ron, tell me if I can disclose your identity here), I can offer to you today an exceptional plot of historical significance.

Before I paste below the plot in question, let me discuss what it is about. The Tevatron collider has operated since October 1985 -about a couple of geological eras back, in particle physics terms. The W and Z bosons were newborn babies back then, the top quark was thought to have a mass in the 30-50 GeV ballpark, and, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones, "Carlo Rubbia raged and the bodies stunk".