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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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There are twenty-four elementary fermions in the standard model. Sure, they are arranged in a very tidy, symmetrical structure of three families of eight fermions (two leptons and six quarks), which is not too unpleasant to behold. And of course, if one is willing to forget the fact that the quantum-chromodynamical charge of quarks does make them different, then the picture is even tidier: 12 fermions, six of them quarks and six of them leptons, arranged in three families of four.
It has become a pleasant habit for me to visit Bassano del Grappa every February for a conference on particle physics aimed at high-school students. Thanks to the efforts and the skill of dr. Sergio Lucisano, the schools of Bassano organize every year several conferences on physics and cosmology. These conferences are connected with the european program of the Masterclasses, but they extend the scope considerably into the history of physics and other topics of interest for the students.
I remember very well the very first meeting of the Heavy Flavour Working Group in CDF that I attended in the summer of 1992. I was a summer student back then, and my understanding of spoken English was not perfect, so as a graduate student started discussing with his slides the results he was getting on the top quark mass reconstructed in simulated single-lepton top pair decays, I struggled to follow his talk -the physics was just as hard to follow as the English.
"In 1934, L.E.Kinsler at the California Institute of technology was studying the Zeeman effect as a means for evaluating the charge-to-mass ratio of the electron, e/m. The deduction of e/m from the measured wavelength differences involves, in addition to a high-precision measurement of the magnetic field, a knowledge of the way in which the individual electron spins and orbital angular momenta are coupled. However, there are certain quantities or combinations of quantities that are independent of the nature of the coupling.
One of the positive side-effects of preparing a seminar is being forced to get up-to-date with the latest experimental and theoretical developments on the topic. And this is of particular benefit to lazy bums like myself, who prefer to spend their time playing online chess than reading arxiv preprints.

It happened last week, in the course of putting together a meaningful discussion of the state of the art in global electroweak fits to standard model observables, and their implications for the unknown mass of the Higgs boson: by skimming the hep-ph folder I found a very recent paper by a colleague in Padova, which I had shamefully failed to notice in the last couple of careless visits.
This morning, upon leaving Brussels to go back home after my seminar in Louvain-la-Neuve, my attention was caught by a big green banner hanging from a tall building at Place Schuman. It said "Safe Internet Day" and below, in smaller fonts, "think before you blog". I found it inspiring.

A blog, if used correctly, is a very nice tool which enhances one's possibility to express one's ideas, or to do scientific outreach, as in my case. It may also be used for self-promotion at times (and the opportunity does not escape me, although I try to self-contain these outbursts). But a blog, if it attracts traffic, may become also a dangerous instrument, which must be handled with care.