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Stuff Worth Reading: Collider Asymmetries, Dark Photons, And Warp Drives

As yesterday in Italy was the equivalent of Labor Day, and today is a Saturday, with people around...

The Quote of the Week: Who Called the Higgs Boson The Higgs Boson

"B.W. Lee also carries much of the responsibility for calling the Higgs boson the Higgs boson,...

Offenbach in Athens

"La belle Hélène" is a beautiful operetta by Jacques Offenbach. Now for the first time it has...

Pictures Of March 20th Eclipse From Svalbard

I am presently in Athens for a few days, to give a seminar and meet the local group of CMS physicists...

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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 »

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The CMS collaboration has released yesterday results of a search for Majorana neutrinos in dimuon data collected by the CMS detector in 8 TeV proton-proton collisions delivered by the LHC in 2012. If you are short of time and just need an executive summary, here it is: no such thing is seen, unfortunately, and limits are set on the production rate of heavy neutrinos N as a function of their mass. If you have five spare minutes, however, you might be interested in some more detail of the search and its results.
A periodic backup of my mobile phone yesterday - mainly pictures and videos - was the occasion to give a look back at things I did and places I visited in 2014, for business and leisure. I thought it would be fun to share some of those pictures with you, with sparse comments. I know, Facebook does this for you automatically, but what does Facebook know of what is meaningful and what isn't ? So here we go.
The first pic was taken at Beaubourg, in Paris - it is a sculpture I absolutely love: "The king plays with the queen" by Max Ernst.



Still in Paris (for a vacation at the beginning of January), the grandiose interior of the Opera de Paris...
This morning I woke up at 6AM, had a shower and breakfast, dressed up, and rushed out in the cold of the fading night to catch a train to Mestre, where my car was parked. From there I drove due north for two hours, to a place in the mountains called Pieve di Cadore. A comfortable ride in normal weather, but this morning the weather was horrible, with an insisting water bombing from above which slowly turned to heavy sleet as I gained altitude. The drive was very unnerving as my car is old and not well equipped for these winter conditions - hydroplaning was frequent. But I made it.
The CMS Collaboration at the LHC collider has recently measured a non-negligible rate for the fraction of Higgs boson decays into muon-tau pairs, as I reported in this article last summer. The observation is not statistically significant enough to cause an earthquake in the world of high-energy physics, and sceptics like myself just raised a gram of eyebrows at the announcement - oh yeah, just another 2-sigma effect. However, the matter becomes more interesting if there is a theoretical model which allows for the observed effect, AND if the model is not entirely crazy.
A comet is a magical sight in the heavens. Comets visible to the naked eye are a uncommon event, and sometimes they put up very suggestive shows in our skies. Those of us who have witnessed the apparition of a bright comet do not forget that experience easily. 
The recent landing on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko of the Rosetta spacecraft has made even more fascinating the observation of comets from the ground, as we got treated by close-ups of the comet surface that resemble mountainous terrains on Earth. Imagining a rock streaming in the sky, coming nearby after a long trip from the Oort cloud, and maybe returning sometimes in the future, or maybe getting lost forever, is truly remarkable.
The terrorist attack of two days ago in Paris to the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo left most of us hit hard by the blow to freedom of the press and freedom of thought, which are among that core set of rights on which we have built our society and which we feel we really cannot give up.

I confess I have never unfolded a copy of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, but I am quite familiar with the work of Wolinski, the 80-year-old cartoonist, who perished in the attack along with his colleagues. I liked his sense of humor and his cartoons a lot, and I am quite pissed off by those two morons taking that away from me.