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Artificial-Intelligence Assisted Design Of Experiments

Yes, I know - I have touched on this topic already a couple of times in this blog, so you have...

Old-School Statistical Learning Tools Challenge Neural Networks In Physics Problems

Neural networks are everywhere today. They are used to drive vehicles, classify images, translate...

W Pairs From Double Parton Scattering

When I explain to the public (in this blog, or at public conferences or schools) how the Large...

The Second MODE Workshop On Experimental Design

As the twentythree regular readers of this blog know [(c) A.Manzoni], in recent times I have moved...

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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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The neutron, discovered in 1932 by Chadwick, is a fascinating particle whose existence allows for the stability of heavy nuclei and a wealth of atoms of different properties. Without neutrons, Hydrogen would be the only stable element: protons cannot be brought together and bound in a stable system, so e.g. Helium-2 (an atom made of two protons with two electrons) is very short-lived, as are atoms with more protons and no neutrons. So our Universe would be a very dull place.
Interference is a fascinating effect, and one which can be observed in a wide variety of physical systems - any system that involves the propagation of waves from different sources. We can observe interference between waves in the sea or in a lake, or even in our bathtub; we can hear the effect of interference between sound waves; or we can observe the fascinating patterns created by interference effects in light propagation. In addition to all that, we observe interference between the amplitudes of quantum phenomena by studying particle physics processes.
A bit over a half into my course of particle physics for Masters students in Statistical Sciences I usually find myself describing the CMS detector in some detail, and that is what happened last week.
 
The course

My course has a duration of 64 hours, and is structured in four parts. In the first part, which usually takes about 24 hours to complete, I go over the most relevant part of 20th Century physics. We start from the old quantum theory and then we look at special relativity, the fundaments of quantum mechanics, the theory of scattering, the study of hadrons and the symmetries that lead to the quark model, to finish with the Higgs mechanism and the Standard Model. 
Old timers of this blog will recall that I am an avid stone collector. In fact, of all experimental sciences I am fond of (Physics, Astronomy, Geology above others) Geology is the one that fascinated me first, as a six or seven year old child. We are talking about almost fifty years ago, when newspaper stands in Italy used to sell small packets containing pictures of soccer players (they were not even adhesive back then: you had to use your own glue to attach them in the proper place within collection albums which were sold separately) . Kids collected those "figurine", and exchanged them with their peer after school hours (or even during school hours). Other collections offered were ones of minerals, fossils, stickers, etcetera.
Do you remember the DAMA-LIBRA experiment? It is a underground detector made of sodium iodide crystals buried under the rock of the Gran Sasso mountain in central Italy, which took data for over a decade in the search of the elusive signal that slowly-moving, massive particles would produce when they bounced off atoms of the active detector material. 
A long time ago, before starting the studies which would lead to a career as a particle physicist, I studied music. After getting a degree as a master in Antique Instruments, I studied composition for four years. But I was not particularly well versed in that tough discipline, and I did the right thing in dropping out. I was 18, and I decided that Science was going to be my job, not music. But I kept an interest in music and I continued - a bit erratically - to study the piano.