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Merging Neutron Stars: Why It's A Breakthrough, And Why You Should Stand Your Ground

Like many others, I listened to yesterday's (10/16/17) press release at the NSF without a special...

Trevor Hastie Lectures In Padova

Trevor Hastie, the Stanford University guru on Statistical Learning (he coined the term together...

The Physics Of Boson Pairs

At 10:00 AM this morning, my smartphone alerted me that in two months I will have to deliver a...

Top Quarks Observed In Proton-Nucleus Collisions For The First Time

The top quark is the heaviest known matter corpuscle we consider elementary. Elementary is...

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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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A little while ago I encountered an interesting problem, which I had fun solving by myself. I think my solution is not original (it must have occurred to others a gazillion times in the past) but I do believe the implementation is nice, so I want to share it with you here.
The general problem

Imagine you are given a set of counts distributed in bins of a histogram. This could be, for instance, the age distribution of a set of people. You are asked to assign uncertainty bars to the counts: in other words, estimate a "one-sigma" interval for the relative rate of counts in each bin.
Innovative training networks are a European Community concept funded by the Research Executive Agency, under the project called "Marie Curie Actions". The idea is that the EU helps build structures that provide interdisciplinary training to skilled graduate students, providing them with knowledge and skills that make them attractive for the work market and useful to society, while boosting the research projects that the EU is interested in.
GSI, the Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, is a laboratory located near the town of Darmstadt, in central Germany, just a few miles away from the Frankfurt airport. The centre was founded in 1969, and has since then been a very active facility where heavy elements are studied (six rare heavy ones were in fact discovered there, including the one they named Darmstadtium!), and where a wide research plan of nuclear physics is carried out.

With a slightly anti-climatic timing if we consider the just ended orgy of new results presented at winter conferences in particle physics (which I touched on here), the LHCb collaboration outed today the results of a measurement of unity, drawing attention on the fact that unity was found to be not equal to 1.0.
This evening I am blogging from a residence in Sesto val Pusteria, a beautiful mountain village in the Italian Alps. I came here for a few days of rest after a crazy work schedule in the past few days -the reason why my blogging has been intermittent. Sesto is surrounded by glorious mountains, and hiking around here is marvelous. But right now, as I sip a non-alcoholic beer (pretty good), chilling off after a day out, my thoughts are focused 500,000,000 kilometers away.
Snow is melting in the Alps, and particle physicists, who have flocked to La Thuile for exciting ski conferences in the past weeks, are now back to their usual occupations. The pressure of the deadline is over: results have been finalized and approved, preliminary conference notes have been submitted, talks have been given. The period starting now, the one immediately following presentation of new results, when the next deadline (summer conferences!) is still far away, is more productive in terms of real thought and new ideas. Hopefully we'll come up with some new way to probe the standard model or to squeeze more information from those proton-proton collisions, lest we start to look like accountants!