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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 »

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.
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: