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Imaging The Human Body With Muons

While exchanging ideas with a dear colleague of mine on possible applications of differentiable...

An Interview By APPEC

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Katrin Link for APPEC, the Astro-Particle Physics European...

Sunday Morning Teleology

Design and purpose are definitely not two things that scientists consider as their guiding ideas...

Looking For A Ph.D. In Physics Or Computer Science? Look No Further

Today the University of Padova has issued a call for Ph. D. positions to start in October 2021...

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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 »

The Italian "Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei" is an old institution, founded in 1603 to promote and cultivate natural science studies. It counted Galileo Galilei as a member, and it has never ceased to pursue its goal. Nowadays, it is an excellence cultural centre and is among the advisors of the President of the Republic.
I have put this post under the "psychology" category, although it discusses a chess game, for one important reason. Chess is a game, an art, a sport - you can categorize it in many different ways. However, what characterizes chess the most, in my opinion (an educated one, as I am an amateur with a long past of chess tournaments)  is the chance it gives to the players to mess up with each other's mind.
Wait, I can almost hear you say it: "Xi_b what? Let's move on, where's the sports section?" Ok, if you need to, please go. But do not underestimate excited Xi_b baryons. They are a helluva lot of fun to watch as they pop into existence and then decay in stages, as if stripping piece by piece, throwing out opaque layers of matter one by one, and finally exposing their naked beauty in full bloom.

Are you getting aroused yet? we are talking about a haDR-on here, don't be mistaken, but the matter is not less sexy than the stuff you'd get on the sports section anyway. For, you know, there is simply so much we still do not know about how quarks can create excited states of nuclear matter, that one cannot ignore any new development. 
[This is the second part of a two-part article on Cosmic Messenger astrophysics. For part 1, please click here.]

We can also "see" showers of secondary particles from cosmic rays thanks to the Cherenkov light they produce. Cherenkov light is emitted when charged particles travel in a medium at speeds higher than the speed of light itself! Light, in fact, slows down a little when it traverses a medium; energetic particles do not, so they create a conic "shock wave" similar to the boom of supersonic airplanes. 

Have you ever looked up to a clear sky on a moonless night, in a place away from large cities? If you have, you will remember seeing hundreds of bright stars, and maybe even the faint collective glow of 250 billion more within the Milky Way, our own galaxy.

Today I wish to offer you, dear reader, the chance to contribute to scientific research in particle physics. And I claim you can do that by only leveraging basic high-school knowledge in mathematics and geometry. Let me explain what the problem is, first of all, and then I'll put you in the conditions of contributing!

Muons are subnuclear particles of high interest in collider physics. I could write about muons for ages, but it would not be of relevance for our problem of today, so let's just say they interact feebly with matter, so they traverse thick layers only depositing in them small amounts of energy (mainly in the form of electromagnetic radiation).