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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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Yesterday, October 20, was the international day of Statistics. I took inspiration from it to select a clip from chapter 7 of my book "Anomaly! Collider physics and the quest for new phenomena at Fermilab" which attempts to explain how physicists use the concept of statistical significance to give a quantitative meaning to their measurements of new effects. I hope you will enjoy it....

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Like many others, I listened to yesterday's (10/16/17) press release at the NSF without a special prior insight in the physics of neutron star mergers, or in the details of the measurements we can extract from the many observations that the detected event made possible. My knowledge of astrophysics is quite incomplete and piecemeal, so in some respects I could be considered a "layman" listening to a science outreach seminar.

Yet, of course, as a physicist I have a good basic understanding of the processes at the heart of the radiation emissions that took place two hundred million years ago in that faint, otherwise unconspicuous galaxy in Hydra. 
Trevor Hastie, the Stanford University guru on Statistical Learning (he coined the term together with his colleagues Tibshirani and Friedman) is in Padova this week, where he is giving a short course on his pet topic and a seminar. I am happy to report this as this was partly made possible by the European Union-funded network of which I am the project coordinator, AMVA4NewPhysics. But most of the merit is of Prof. Giovanna Menardi, PI of the Padova node of the network, who organized it... And of course I am happy because I am learning from his insightful lectures!

(Above, prof. Menardi introduces the lectures).
At 10:00 AM this morning, my smartphone alerted me that in two months I will have to deliver a thorough review on the physics of boson pairs - a 50 page thing which does not yet even exist in the world of ideas. So I have better start planning carefully my time in the next 60 days, to find at least two clean weeks where I may cram in the required concentration. That will be the hard part!
The top quark is the heaviest known matter corpuscle we consider elementary. Elementary is an overloaded word in English, so I need to explain what it means in the context of subatomic particles. If we grab a dictionary we get several possibilities, like e.g.- elementary: pertaining to or dealing with elements, rudiments, or first principles

- elementary: of the nature of an ultimate constituent; uncompounded
- elementary: not decomposable into elements or other primary constituents
- elementary: simple
In 1952 my uncle Antonio, then 18 years old, left his family home in Venice, Italy to never return, running away from the humiliation of a failure at school. With a friend he reached the border with France and crossed it during the night, chased by border patrols and wolves. Caught by the French police Toni - that was the abbreviated name with which was known by everybody - was offered a choice: be sent back to Italy, facing three months of jail, or enrol in the French legion. Afraid of the humiliation and the consequences, he tragically chose the latter.