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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 »

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.
Funny. While dozens of online media are abuzz with the (non)-news, and while Fermilab Today tweets that there is no Higgs in store for us and a blogger in search of fame is just spreading unconfirmed voices which have no foundation, Lubos Motl over at the Reference Frame gets more detailed rumors on the same thing, and that does make things a bit more interesting.
The CDF experiment has just released their new average of top quark mass measurements, obtained with analyses that use up to 5.6 inverse femtobarns of proton-antiproton collisions provided by the 2-TeV Tevatron collider: the new measurement is  M(top) = 173.1 +- 0.7 (stat) +- 0.9 (syst) GeV, a measurement with a total uncertainty of 1.3 GeV, or 0.75%!

Have a look at the various measurements that enter the calculation in the graph below.

"Eighty percent of success is showing up"

Sometimes my sympathy for science magazines (in print and online), which try to keep intelligent readers informed on the progress in basic science, gets dampened by observing how they end up providing a narrow-sighted look at things. What is at stake is usually not science popularization: an article you read does not need to inform you of all what is going on in a field of research; rather, it is the correct acknowledgement of the different efforts. It sometimes happens that a group works hard on something, they believe they have made great progress and furthered everybody's knowledge in the field, and then an article appears that discusses somebody else's contribution, which came later, was less successful, and less valuable.