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The Number Of My Publications Has Four Digits

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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 »

Yesterday my 16 year old son surprised me by explaining that he had been taught at school what alpha, beta, and gamma decays are. He had learned a lot, but I was able to add a little more background information to the picture as he asked me what was the neutrino, which his professor had correctly explained was one of the particles emitted in beta decay.

With hindsight, my surprise probably comes from keeping my brain inactive and sticking to a rather conservative idea of how sciences should be taught at school; that idea is that understanding physics requires you to have some solid basis in maths, and that the explanation of phenomena should proceed along with quantitative calculations. 
In Thessaloniki for a greek weekend and a wedding, I had a chance this morning to visit the city's archaeological museum. I was not expecting much, although I had a vague recollection that the area is rich with old archaeological sites and tombs, many of which were unearthed in pristine state. Hence I was extremely happy of the wealth of sculptures, jewelry, vases, and objects of all kinds, especially ones from the pre-Ellenistic period.
The collection of jewelry and gold and silver coins was impressive; by itself it was well worth the visit. But two things really made my day: some incredibly beautiful vases from Chios, and the Derveni papyrus.
The graph below, I hope you'll agree, is significantly cooler and better-looking than the typical data display plots you get from high-energy physics analyses. Colours are bright, graphical symbols are clean, and one grasps the essence of the information quickly once one knows what it is about. So, let me tell you what it is about for starters.
Yesterday I chaired the selection committee to choose the student who will be hired in the AMVA4NewPhysics network by the Padova section of INFN, and during the interviews I asked all candidates a couple of "easy" physics questions, meant to test the students' reasoning process rather than their prior knowledge.

The first question was only apparently easy - even too much, from the outset. The fact is, the devil is always hiding in the details, as I immediately realized as I tested it by asking an experienced colleague to answer it. He got part of the question wrong, but in doing so he clarified to me that there was a non trivial aspect below the surface.
The winners of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics are:

  • Takaaki Kajita Kajita (Super Kamiokande)
  • Arthur McDonald (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory - SNO)
“for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass"
It is with great sadness that I heard (reading it here first) about the passing away of Guido Altarelli, a very distinguished Italian theoretical physicist. Altarelli is best known for the formulas that bear his name, the Altarelli-Parisi equations (also known as DGLAP since it was realized that due recognition for the equations had to be given also to Dokshitzer, Gribov, and Lipatov). But Altarelli was a star physicist who gave important contributions to Standard Model physics in a number of ways.