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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 »

While a thousand physicists gather in hot Paris and listen to talk after talk, I am confined in a small island of the Mediterranean, trying to relax and gather my ideas for the next few aggressive months of data analysis, a course of subnuclear physics in the fall, and of course, more reckless rumor-mongering!
The CMS collaboration at the LHC collider has just produced its very first results on the production of Upsilon particles, with 280 inverse nanobarns of proton-proton collisions at 7 TeV center-of-mass energy. I wish to discuss these results here, to explain what is interesting in these very early measurements, and what we can expect to learn in the future from them.

The production of resonances decaying to muon pairs is one of the first things one wants to study when a hadron collider starts operation. This is because these particles are extremely well known, so one immediately figures out whether the detector is working properly, what is the resolution on the momenta of the reconstructed particles, etcetera.
I am preparing a disclaimer to be added to the bottom of my posts here. The problem I am trying to solve -at least in part- is that the colleagues in the scientific collaborations I work for apparently fear that I be identified, by science reporters or other media agents, as an official source of information from those experiments.
The Atlas collaboration made public, just in time for the 2010 ICHEP conference in Paris, the projected reach of their searches for standard model Higgs bosons. This is a whole set of interesting new results which, although necessarily still based on simulations, tell us a lot about what we might see toward the end of next year at the LHC.

Here I will just flash a couple of the results, because the plentiful online documentation that ATLAS provided makes it a worthless exercise on my part to just echo it here. However, maybe I can comment the most relevant plots for those of you too lazy to browse the information-thick ATLAS pages.
So, now we know. There is no 3-sigma signal from the Tevatron.... Sure, because they have not combined their MSSM searches yet!


I will spend little time here discussing the various colourful ways by means of which I have been depicted:

- unreliable source of information
- fame-seeking blogger
- Paris Hilton of Physics
- Less trustworthy than Paul the Octopus
- and I could go on, but I prefer to leave these envious utterings where they first diffused their stench.

I am amused by the attention, but rather disappointed by the utter failure of all these commentators to understand what went wrong here: the press jumped at this gossip, without a blink, where there simply was no story !
Prayer to the Funding Agency Reviewer

(dedicated to those who worry about the detrimental effect of rumours)

Oh Funding Reviewer, on whose hands
Rests the destiny of full many an experiment:
Be true to yourself, and bias not
Thy sober judgement through the browsing
Of tricky sites or malicious magazines.

You were chosen, wise among the wise,
To distribute thy moneys to the worthy.
Human knowledge is at the stake:
Neglect the rumours, and listen not
To lesser souls. Let the Science be your guide.