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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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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.
On my way back to CERN from Fermilab (yes, I am betting on two tables at a time these days, as our Poker-addict friend Garth Sundem suggests), I made a 7-hour stopover in New York. Originally this was meant to save money to my employer, because other combinations costed more than the Swiss ticket I found. But I made virtue of necessity, and organized a meeting with my friend Peter Woit in the West Village. It turned out that I picked the right day for my visit.
Coming Clean

Coming Clean

May 11 2009 | comment(s)

Chessplayers are a strange lot. Those who get attracted by the game and end up sticking to it, making it the game of their life, are typically intelligent, creative thinkers; yet among them one may usually count a unusually large number of nutcases. It is not a secret, for instance, that several of the best chess players of the past were disturbed souls. Whole books have been written on this topic (see for instance the famous "The psychology of the chess player" by R.Fine), and I cannot offer any meaningful contribution here. However, I can tell you the personal story of the worst moment of mental insanity in my chess career.
When I became an amateur chess player and I enrolled in the "Esteban Canal" chess club in Venice, about a quarter of a century ago, I met and got to know personally dozens of people sharing my interest for the game of the kings. Many of them became good friends of mine, but only maybe two or three have made a permanent dent in my soul and have stayed in my heart since then, despite our lives took different routes. Among this small subset was Francesco, universally known as "chicco" by all those who loved him.