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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 »

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Today I visited the 53rd international art exposition at the Biennale di Venezia, which this year is titled "Fare Mondi" (making worlds). I am posting below a few pictures I took of the installations I saw there, for those of you who are not insensitive to contemporary arts. But before I do, let me add a personal note.
"It is incredible how technology changes our lives. I, for example, was not used to swear."

(Teo Guadalupi)

From 1958 to 1970 Wladimiro Dorigo, my father, directed a political and cultural magazine called "Questitalia" ("This italy"), where emerging political issues were discussed, and the ongoing transformations of Italian society were dissected by a distinguished group of intellectuals. I own a copy of all the 150 issues of that publication, and every once in a while I pick one of them out of the lot at random, and learn what Italy was 40 or 50 years ago.
From the front page of an operational circular of the CERN laboratories:

In the interest of readability, this circular has been drafted using the masculine gender only. However, use of the masculine gender should be understood to refer to both sexes. The provisions of the circular therefore apply to both men and women except where it is clear from the context that they concern one sex or the other exclusively.

It is a well-known fact that it is much easier to measure a physical quantity than to correctly assess the magnitude of the uncertainty on the measurement: the uncertainty is everything!

A trivial demonstration of the above fact is the following. Consider you are measuring the mass of the top quark (why, I know you do it at least once a week, just to keep mentally fit). You could say you have no idea whatsoever of what the top mass is, but you are capable of guessing, and your best guess is that the top mass is  twice the mass of the W boson: after all, you have read somewhere that the top quark decays into a W boson plus other stuff, so a good first-order estimate is 2x80.4= 160.8 GeV.
In four weeks I will speak at a very interesting session of the World Conference on Science Journalism 2009, an event that takes place in London from June 30th to July 4th. Together with James Gillies (head of Communication at the CERN laboratories) and Matthew Chalmers (freelance science journalist, formerly featured editor at Physics World) we will discuss the following theme:

Blogs, big physics and breaking news

Summary: How are blogs changing the way science news develops and is reported? The commissioning of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN will offer a telling case study over the next few years. Who will be first with news of the fabled Higgs Boson, and how will we know if they're right?