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Letters From Indochina, 1952-54: The Tragic Story Of A 18 Year Old Enrolled In The Legion Etrangere

In 1952 my uncle Antonio, then 18 years old, left his family home in Venice, Italy to never return...

CMS Reports Evidence For Higgs Decays To B-Quark Pairs

Another chapter in the saga of the search for the elusive, but dominant, decay mode of the Higgs...

On Turtles, Book Writing, And Overcommitments

Back from vacations, I think I need to report a few random things before I get back into physics...

A Narrow Escape From The Cumbre Rucu Volcano

If I am alive, I probably owe it to my current very good physical shape.That does not mean I narrowly...

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Tommaso DorigoRSS Feed of this column.

Tommaso Dorigo is an experimental particle physicist, who works for the INFN at the University of Padova, and collaborates with the CMS experiment at the CERN LHC. He coordinates the European network... Read More »

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In four weeks I will speak at a very interesting session of the World Conference on Science Journalism 2009, an event that takes place in London from June 30th to July 4th. Together with James Gillies (head of Communication at the CERN laboratories) and Matthew Chalmers (freelance science journalist, formerly featured editor at Physics World) we will discuss the following theme:

Blogs, big physics and breaking news

Summary: How are blogs changing the way science news develops and is reported? The commissioning of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN will offer a telling case study over the next few years. Who will be first with news of the fabled Higgs Boson, and how will we know if they're right?

It feels good, for a die-hard sceptic like I am, to live and let unexplained phenomena die. The phenomena in question are measured deviations from the predictions of the Standard Model (SM), our wonderful theory of subnuclear interactions, which has been condemned to fail by theorists soon after its construction, but continues, disappointingly for many, to succeed in explaining experimental results.
The following position arose from a blitz chess game played on the Internet Chess Club this afternoon. I am white, and black is to move.


As you can see, material is even; white has all his pieces but the Rd1 trained against the enemy kings' shelter, a strong knight on f6, and is threatening to win an exchange with Nxe8 -however good or bad that move may be, given the strength of the knight in the game position.
As elections to renew the european parliaments get closer, the political arena in Italy fails to deal with the matters that should interest voters, and instead concentrates on the behavior of Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

In a crescendo of events, each of which could have brought less gutsy politicians to resign, the italian press is getting totally dominated by the personal matters of the prime minister. Let me give a brief summary below.

A trial proved that Berlusconi had corrupted an English lawyer, Mills, to get a false testimony from him; a law masterfully crafted by Berlusconi's lacqueys only a year ago is now preventing his impeachment. Berlusconi's wife Veronica Lario publically announces she is asking for
The catholic church has long lost its race against islamism for the religious institution with more adepts. And they ache for it: you can tell from their resentful remarks on the matter. Bishops and spokespersons of the Vatican have been recently reported to say that the data need to be verified, that the number of muslims is inflated, that there is no clear record... The fact is, the data come from the World Christian Database, a US institute which is hard to refute. In 2007 it already estimated muslims to beat catholics 1.322 to 1.115 billions.

Here is what I reported on the matter two years ago:
This is going to be a rather long piece, so for the lazy and the absent-minded among you I decided to put together an executive summary at the top, and not at the bottom of the article as I usually do. It is a bit of a spoiler, but those of you who can invest some time reading about particle physics will not be deterred by the first few lines of text. Besides, an executive summary is needed because we are discussing real news here: so here it is.