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Single Top Production Nailed By LHC Experiments

The ATLAS and CMS collaborations released yesterday a joint document where they discuss the combination...

CMS Discovers New Excited Bc Hadron

I am very happy to report today that the CMS experiment just confirmed to be an excellent spectrometer...

Registrations open for Data Science school in Braga, Mar 25-27

A school and symposium in Data Science in (Astro)-Particle Physics and Cosmology will be held on...

Data Science Lectures In Braga

On March 25 to 27 will be held the school titled "Data Science in (astro)particle physics and cosmology"...

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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 »

Supersymmetry (SUSY) is a possible extension of the Standard Model (SM), the currently accepted theory of subnuclear physics. SUSY has the potential to "explain away" some of the  problematic features of the SM, by introducing a new symmetry between fermions (the stuff that matter is made of) and bosons (the vectors of the forces that hold matter together). Introduced in the seventies, SUSY was tested with increasingly stringent tests in higher- and higher-energy collisions at particle accelerators, but all searches for its particles have returned empty-handed. In particular, many physicists thought that the turn-on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) eight years ago would result in heaps of new discoveries of SUSY particles, which unfortunately weren't. 
I don't remember who said it, but there's a quote I like a lot: "If you torture them long enough, the data will confess to anything". What the author meant is of course that the manipulation of experimental data and the a posteriori use of hand-picked methods, approximations, and other ad-hoc choices allows you to demonstrate anything with them, from one hypothesis to the opposite one. Statistics, in other words, is a subtle science, which must be handled with care. It is a powerful tool in the hands of people with an agenda. 


Dec 13 2018 | comment(s)

It's been a while since I last discussed something personal in this column. The reason is not that I changed my mind with respect to being open and freely share my ideas, experiences, and personal life things here - I have long argued that if a blog is not personal, it is not interesting, and I stand by that assessment. 
Rather, the reason of my not talking much about myself and my personal / work life is the good old one: lack of time. If I have time to write an article, I try to do it on a subject which I suppose will be more interesting to the readers of this site. Hence physics, rather than life and work, takes the precedence. But it needs not be so all the time, so today I will try to go in the other direction.
My CMS colleague Didar Dobur, who chairs the "Top Properties" working group in the experiment, presented today the first observation of the process whereby a top quark is produced in association to a Z boson. I could follow the presentation by videoconference, so I am blogging about this result in close to real time, for a change.
What machine will replace the Large Hadron Collider to further our knowledge of fundamental physics at the high-energy frontier, in the forthcoming decades? 

The question is not at all a far-fetched one: these large machines require two decades to be built - and can then typically be operated for two further decades, amassing collision data that slowly but steadily improve the precision of our estimates of the parameters of nature.
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, there is a workshop going on this week at Fermilab, where 110 attendees - mostly particle physicists, but some computer scientists are also present - discuss how to push for more effective use of machine learning tools in the extraction of information on particle collisions. 

Also one goal is to understand what new ideas from the world of machine learning could find ideal applications in the typical use cases of research in fundamental physics. Here I wish to mention a few interesting things that I heard at the workshop so far, in random order. I will rarely make direct reference to the talks, to encourage you to dig into the pdf files available here.