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On Rating Universities

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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 »

April Plans

April Plans

Apr 09 2023 | comment(s)

A long time ago, this column used to report a lot of detail of my personal life and of daily news about my work-related travel and activities. The site does offer two modalities for posts: article-type and blog-type; this determines where they appear in the main science20 site (this text is classified as blog-type, so it will be listed in the column on the center-right in the main page of Science20). This built-in feature invited the kind of blogging style I already had before, so when I moved here in April 2009 (gosh, it's been a while!), it was a seamless manouver.
The Swedish Institute for Space Physics (IRF) is located in Kiruna, a minerary town close to the northern tip of Sweden, above the arctic polar circle. The Space Campus of Kiruna is one of three different centres - the IRF space lab, the EISCAT center, and the Lulea University of Technology department of Space Technology and Atmospheric Science. Close to the complex is the Esrange space center, a multipurpose launching base benefiting from a large unpopulated impact and recovery area.

Above: the IRF from the visitor parking
In the last couple of days I have been busy writing a project to explore the potential of artificial intelligence to extract more information from particle detectors. In fact, while the development of these instruments in the course of the past 80 years has closely followed, and sometimes been a driver, of technological developments, I can see the issue of a progressive mis-alignment of detector design with the ultimate potential and final goals of large experiments. That mis-alignment is due to the rapid evolution of deep learning tools. They have now become the real elephant in the room in this area of studies: an entity that is present, but that risks being ignored despite its enormous impact. 
I am exploiting my column today to advertise a workshop that the collaboration I lead, MODE, is organizing at Princeton University this coming July. The workshop, the third of its series, aims to bring together physicists and computer scientists to join forces in the solution of complex optimization problems in experiment design.

These days I am spending a few months in northern Sweden, to start a collaboration with computer scientists and physicists from Lulea University of Technology on neuromorphic computing (I'll soon write about that, stay tuned). The rather cold weather of March (sub-zero temperatures throughout the day) is compensated by having access to the night show of northern lights, which are often visible from these latitudes (66 degrees north).
Muon tomography is an application of particle detectors where we exploit the peculiar properties of muons to create three-dimensional images of the interior of unknown, inaccessible volumes. You might also want to be reminded that muons are unstable elementary particles; they are higher-mass versions of electrons which can be found in cosmic ray showers or produced in particle collisions.