What Is Statistical Significance?

Yesterday, October 20, was the international day of Statistics. I took inspiration from it to select...

Merging Neutron Stars: Why It's A Breakthrough, And Why You Should Stand Your Ground

Like many others, I listened to yesterday's (10/16/17) press release at the NSF without a special...

Trevor Hastie Lectures In Padova

Trevor Hastie, the Stanford University guru on Statistical Learning (he coined the term together...

The Physics Of Boson Pairs

At 10:00 AM this morning, my smartphone alerted me that in two months I will have to deliver a...

User picture.
picture for Hank Campbellpicture for Patrick Lockerbypicture for Sascha Vongehrpicture for Bente Lilja Byepicture for Johannes Koelmanpicture for Heidi Henderson
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 »

"I seldom enjoy competition in real life. I find it fun only when I am up against somebody who takes things more seriously than I do."

In thirty minutes (4 PM Chicago time) a live streaming of the Omega_b discovery by CDF will be broadcast at this link:

Please follow it if you are interested in particle physics - Pat Lukens, the main author of the analysis, and a very experienced and skilled physicist who has spent the better part of his life for the good of the CDF experiment, will be discussing this fantastic new analysis for all of us.

In the last few days I indulged in a rather technical description of the checks I made on DZERO's evaluation of the significance of their observation of Omega_b particles. In those occasions I did not discuss either what the Omega_b is, nor what is its relevance, nor the details of how DZERO collected a small but significant sample of events characterized by the production of that ephemeral particle.
Good news today. Yesterday afternoon Werner Faymann, the Austrian Federal Chancellor, announced that Austria will not leave CERN, as previously suggested. An official confirmation of this decision will be received this afternoon by letter by the President of the CERN Council.

The decision of Austria does not surprise me - it would have been both crazy and self-destructive for Austrians to decide to leave the rich program of particle physics that they have contributed heavily to make a reality.
The swine flu is spreading silently and slowly throughout the World, but it does not make headlines any more -or not yet again, at least. So far, a total of 8565 cases have been reported in five continents, and 73 people have died of it. The last death reported is a 55-years-old teacher in New York, who passed away after a five-day respiratory crisis.

This influenza is not as deadly as initially thought, if we look at the numbers: given the above numbers we obtain a death rate of less than one in a hundred -or, to be precise, 8.52+-0.99 per mille, where the uncertainty given is just statistical.
In a previous article here I considered from a statistical standpoint the signal of Omega_b candidate decays extracted by the DZERO collaboration in a large dataset of proton-antiproton collisions -the ones produced by today's most powerful hadron collider, the Tevatron at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.