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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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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.
Tired of reading about science ?
In need of a boost to your ego ?
You think you are smarter than me ?
Can you play chess at a reasonable level ? Or, do you have a chess program and you don't mind cheating ?

If you answered "yes" to the above questions, why don't you try to beat at chess a tenured particle physicist with a Ph.D. ? I am willing to take your challenge.
A first observation of the Omega_b baryon -a quite exotic particle composed of a bottom quark and two strange quarks- has been recently published by the DZERO collaboration. Their paper claims to observe the so-far-unseen particle in 1.3 inverse femtobarns of Run II data (about a hundred trillion proton-antiproton collisions, that is).

The claim is based on the signal they find, 17.8 fitted events making a peak in the reconstructed mass distribution, a signal whose significance is computed to exceed five standard deviations: 5.4 of them, to be precise.
With an unexpected move, the Austrian Minister of Research and Science, Johannes Hahn, announced last Friday that he intends to put an end to the 50-year-long participation of Austria to CERN.

Such a move is hard to understand, in light of the great prospects of physics that the start-up of LHC will bring at the end of this year. Losing membership to CERN would mean a downgrade of Austrian scientists in all the projects they are involved, and it would be detrimental to the experiments, to the lab, and to particle physics in general, but most of all it would be a catastrophe for Austrian research.