The Quote Of The Week - Shocked And Disappointed

"Two recent results from other experiments add to the excitement of Run II. The results from Brookhaven's...

ECFA Workshop: Planning For The High Luminosity LHC

I am spending a few days in Aix Les Bains, a pleasant lakeside resort in the French southwest,...

No Light Dark Matter In ATLAS Search

Yesterday the ATLAS collaboration published the results of a new search for dark matter particles...

Cold Fusion: A Better Study On The Infamous E-Cat

Do you remember the E-Cat ? That is an acronym for "energy catalyzer", the device invented by the...

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Tommaso DorigoRSS Feed of this column.

I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson telescope at faint galaxies.... Read More »


This is just a short update on the saga of the anomalous excess of W-boson-pair production that the ATLAS and CMS collaborations have reported in their 7-TeV and 8-TeV proton-proton collision data. A small bit of information which I was unaware of, and which can be added to the picture.

This is just a short post to report about a useful paper I found by preparing for a talk I will be giving next week at the 3rd International Conference on New Frontiers in Physics, in the pleasant setting of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, near Kolympari.

My talk will be titled "Extraordinary Claims: the 0.000029% Solution", making reference to the 5-sigma "discovery threshold" that has become a well-known standard for reporting the observation of new effects or particles in high-energy physics and astrophysics.
Many new particles and other new physics signals claimed in the last twenty years were later proven to be spurious effects, due to background fluctuations or unknown sources of systematic error. The list is long, unfortunately - and longer than the list of particles and effects that were confirmed to be true by subsequent more detailed or more statistically-rich analysis.
A timely article discussing the hot topic of the production rate of pairs of vector bosons in proton-proton collisions has appeared on the Cornell arxiv yesterday. As you might know, both the ATLAS and CMS collaborations, who study the 8-TeV (and soon 13-TeV) proton-proton collisions delivered by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, have recently reported an excess of events with two W bosons. The matter is discussed in a recent article here.
I guess every profession has its own kind of personalized spam. Here is a couple of recent samples from my own:

  • From a Fermilab address: "According to the TRAIN database training for course FN000508 / CR - Workplace Violence and Active Shooter/Active Threat Awareness Training expired on 07/01/2014. Please make arrangements to take this class. If this training is no longer required then you or your supervisor should complete the Individual Training Needs Assessment [...]"
Note that
(1) I am not a user any longer, so their database is at fault. They still send out these notifications anyway.
In the process of revising a chapter of my book, I found a clip I would like to share here, as it contains an analogy I cooked up and which I find nice enough to be proud of. Well, two analogies, as you'll soon find out; here I am speaking of the cat weighing trouble at the end of the piece - the other is quite trivial.
The topic is the widely different masses of fermions, the building blocks of our universe, and the trouble in making sense of it and of measuring precisely their values. Comments welcome!