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Guest Post: Ben Allanach, On Open Access

Ben Allanach, guest blogger, is a Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge...

New Limits On VY Production From CDF: Good, But Also Disappointing

Alas, for once I must say I am not completely happy of one new result by the CDF collaboration...

The Plot Of The Week: Higgs Decays To WW In ATLAS

The latest paper by the ATLAS Collaboration is a very detailed report of the search for Higgs boson...

Travel Blog

While I do intend to update this blog today or tomorrow with a report on a nice new measurement...

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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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Yesterday I gave a lecture at the 3rd International Conference on New Frontiers in Physics, which is going on in kolympari (Crete). I spoke critically about the five-sigma criterion that is nowadays the accepted standard in particle physics and astrophysics for discovery claims.

My slides, as usual, are quite heavily written, which is a nuisance if you are sitting at the conference trying to follow my speech, but it becomes an asset if you are reading them by yourself post-mortem. You can find them here (pdf) and here (ppt) .

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.