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Prescaled Jet Triggers: The Rationale Of Randomly Picking Events

In a chapter of the book I have written, "Anomaly! - Collider physics and the quest for new phenomena...

Catching The 750 GeV Boson With Roman Pots ?!

I am told by a TOTEM manager that this is public news and so it can be blogged about - so here...

Scavenging LHC Data: The CMS Data Scouting Technique

With the Large Hadron Collider now finally up and running after the unfortunate weasel incident...

A Statistics Session At A Particle Physics Conference ?

The twelfth edition of “Quark Confinement and the Hadron Spectrum“, a particle physics conference...

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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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Recurrently, uninformed journalists re-discover the h-index and decide to create their own list of the "top scientists" in their country. The most zealous also draw some summary statistics from the list, and then venture to speculate wildly about it. Alas, it's a pattern I've seen a few times now.

The latest is an article which somebody posted on my Facebook column. It is uninteresting to see what conclusions are drawn from the graphs and lists published there, as the data are quite incomplete - in the h-index-ordered list of Italian researchers I do not appear, for one, but similarly do not dozens of top scientists who have even higher h-indices.

As I am spending my time these days selecting candidates for early-stage researcher positions in the EU network I am coordinating, I am reminded of my own experience as a participant to job interviews from the other side of the table. The text below tells the story of my interviews for a post-doctoral position in 1998. Enjoy! 

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A longtime follower of this blog, Tony Smith, pointed out to me today this arxiv paper published three days ago. In it, CMS data from Run 1 of the LHC are used to speculate that there might be a second Higgs boson hiding in the data at a mass of about 145 GeV. Check out the two graphs that they produce.
The first one, shown below, is their own interpretation of the four-lepton invariant mass from CMS data and background in the H-->ZZ--> four lepton final state:



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.