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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 and the SWGO experiments. He is the president of the Read More »

2008 was a horrible year for the Large Hadron Collider. Just nine days after an extremely successful, highly publicized start-up on September 10th, when hundreds of reporters gathered at CERN to follow the protons as they ventured sector by sector to manage a full turn of the 27 km ring, a stupidly crafted electrical connection failed in sector 3-4 of the machine. This brought above criticality a superconducting solenoid, vaporized six tons of liquid helium, and damaged 53 expensive magnets in the sector with a powerful blast.
These are hard times for evil guys like me, who are always willing to speculate wildly on particle physics results -only to secretly chuckle at the ripples their extrapolations make, knowing for a fact that the Standard Model is as solid as it has ever been.

Suggestive new results which offer themselves as the first hint of a breakdown of the Standard Model are indeed quite rare nowadays. In a famous post which originated a $1000 bet (taken up in part by Prof. Gordon Watts and in part by Prof. Jacques Distler), no less than 32 months ago I was writing in my old blog:
A comment in the thread under my recent post on the greedy bump bias stimulates me to provide here idiot-proof instructions on how to study the effect by yourself, if you wish to spend your time this way. In fact, if I provide you with a simple piece of code plus some fairly immediate instructions on how to set up ROOT in your own PC, I bet you can be up and checking biases in five minutes. Want to try ? Let's see.

  1. Go to the ROOT home page.
Here is the concluding part (for the first part see here) of a discussion of a few subtleties involved in the extraction of small new particle signals hiding within large backgrounds. This is a quite common problem arising in data analysis at particle physics experiments, but it is not restricted to that field. Quite on the contrary: narrow Gaussian signals are commonplace in many experimental sciences, and their identification and measurement is thus an issue of common interest.
Rita Levi-Montalcini, Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1986, turns 100 years old today: she was born on April 22nd, 1909 -before World War I had begun!

"Ok," you might say, "she's probably bedridden and demented by now."  Not in the least. She is in full possession of all her wits, is a very active Senator, and has declared a few days ago that her brain works better now than it did when she was 20, because of her experience. I bet she is not kidding.
If you have recently given a close enough look at the search results that the CDF and DZERO experiments have been producing at a regular pace on the Higgs boson - every six months, that is: for summer and winter conferences - and your exposure to particle physics results is not broad enough, you might have gotten a biased perception of how searches for new particles are performed nowadays.