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On The Residual Brightness Of Eclipsed Jovian Moons

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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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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.


The job of experimental particle physicist is strongly correlated with worldwide travel. Paid for and self-inflicted, sure. But not exactly always pleasant, nor to exotic destinations. In fact, experimental facilities are usually located in notably un-fancy places. The Chicago suburbs, country at the border of Switzerland and France, a mine underground in a God-forgotten place, not to mention the South Pole. One learns to take it as part of the package.
The Fermi collaboration released yesterday a paper describing their measurement of the electron and positron flux of cosmic rays. Simultaneously, a second paper was published by the HESS collaboration on the very same topic. Together, these two important new articles provide the means for a significant advancement in our understanding of the spectrum of electrons and positrons from nearby sources.

It is especially meaningful to consider the two results together because the two instruments are as different as salt grains and tequila. Let me see where to start: