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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 »

Back to breathing the air of Fermilab after a full year away, I got to gauge a bit better the aftermath of the little incident created by a posting of mine in July. As often happens with internet bubbles, they look quite dramatic as they inflate, but they leave no big scars. Two months have passed, and this looks like a good time to post here some ruminations about the general issue.

Physics Experiments And Confidentiality
Since today, and for a full week, I will be serving as Scientific Coordinator (SciCo) of the crew operating the CDF experiment at Fermilab. This honorable task (or in alternative, the serving as "Consumer Operator" or "ACE") is required to all collaborators once or twice per year, in order to provide 24/7 operation of the detector and supervision of the data-taking activities.

The crew is formed by a SciCo, a CO, and an ACE.
A new paper produced by the DZERO collaboration got me quite interested today, for several reasons. The analysis is based on a large data sample: over seven inverse femtobarns of proton-antiproton collisions! This is a huge dataset, the result of about 500 trillion proton-antiproton collisions! In fact, the measurement these data has made possible is extremely precise and it exposes quite strikingly the shortcomings of our present modeling of the production of vector bosons.
The Standard Model of particle physics has been under attack since its original formulation, in 1967, and yet it has so far resisted every assault; in so doing it has become one of the most thoroughly tested physical theories. Like it or not, the construction has stood the test of time so well that theorists and experimentalists alike feel threatened by the chance that the Large Hadron Collider, too, will fail to find new physics beyond what the model predicts.
Last week in Tesero, in front of an audience of 150 interested laypersons, I spoke about the marvels of particle physics (the poster of the conference I gave is below, click to enlarge). My first slide made clear what  I believe is the most important gift of a researcher -theorist or experimentalist- in fundamental science:

I am not a believer of any faith, and the most common prayer you can hear from my voice is "pass the salt". However, I claim I have the right to have my own opinion on what is worth praying for.
Praying for oneself or one's beloved relatives or friends is too selfish an occupation to deserve my attention. Praying for the world in general, for world peace, or for the human race, on the other hand, sounds a bit too ambitious for any single voice. There must be a middle ground.