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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 »

This afternoon I am leaving to Belgium. I have been invited by the Université Catholique de Louvain to give a seminar on the status and the future of the Higgs boson searches at the Tevatron collider. This was a good pretext to sit down and learn the latest details of the analyses carried out by CDF and DZERO, and to do some real work of my own, mainly to understand what are the discovery or exclusion prospects for the Higgs in the US in the next few years. I have somehow described my conclusions in a recent article.
Earlier today I reported about the publication of a paper by a non-professional physicist, Carl Brannen. Now I have to do the same for a paper -the first one in a long and groundbreaking series, you can bet- from the CMS collaboration, one of the two main experiments at the CERN Large Hadron Collider.
This just in: Carl Brannen (here his blog) got a paper on gravitation published in a scientific magazine. Carl, who is the typical amateur who many "established scientists" in the blogosphere have labeled a crackpot in the last few years, does not actually fit the bill very well: he is a deep thinker who knows the literature of what he studies, and the fact that he is not salaried by a research institute means as little as this: he does it for Science, and not for a pay.
"Quidquid oritur, qualecumque est, causam habet a natura. Cum autem res nova et admirabilis fieri videtur, causam invetigato, si poteris, ratione confisus. Si nullam causam reperis, illud tamen certum habeto, nihil fieri potuisse sine causa naturali. Repelle igitur terrorem quem res nova tibi attulit et semper verbis sapientium confidere aude: sapiens enim facta, quae prodigiosa videntur , numquam fortuito evenisse dicet, quod nihil fieri sine causa potest, nec quicquam fit quod fieri non potest: nulla igitur portenta sunt. Nam si portentum putare debemus id quod raro fit, sapientem esse portentum est: facilius esse enim mulam parere arbitror quam sapientem esse."

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Quick and dirty translation:
To see the future, you must know the past: these nine words nicely summarize a syllogism which knows few exceptions. Turning to known data to check the power of one's extrapolations is a quite well-founded scientific approach. So if we are to try and guesstimate how much will the CDF and DZERO experiments manage to deliver in the next few years, we must check how well they delivered this far, by comparing results with early expectations.

But why bother ? Well, of course because there is a real challenge on: bookmakers need to tune the odds they offer!

Fermilab versus CERN
"Why three families ? Why the particular symmetry structure ? [...] If the Higgs particle turns out to exist as conventionally described, with a reasonably low mass (say less than 200 GeV) then that closes the Standard Model from a mathematical point of view. It is then quite conceivable that new physics, not contained in the Standard Model, will be way beyond the reach of any accelerator imaginable today. In this case, humanity might never get an answer to the questions posed above."

M.Veltman, Reflections on the Higgs System (1997).