My activity as a chessplayer has seen a steady decline in the past three years, due to overwhelming work obligations. To play in chess tournaments at a decent level, you not only need to be physically fit and well trained for the occasion, but also have your mind free from other thoughts. Alas, I have been failing miserably in the second and third of the above requirements. So I have essentially retired from competitive chess, and my only connection to the chess world is through the occasional 5-minute blitz game over the internet.
Yesterday, October 20, was the international day of Statistics
. I took inspiration from it to select a clip from chapter 7 of my book "Anomaly! Collider physics and the quest for new phenomena at Fermilab"
which attempts to explain how physicists use the concept of statistical significance to give a quantitative meaning to their measurements of new effects. I hope you will enjoy it....
Like many others, I listened to yesterday's (10/16/17) press release at the NSF without a special prior insight in the physics of neutron star mergers, or in the details of the measurements we can extract from the many observations that the detected event made possible. My knowledge of astrophysics is quite incomplete and piecemeal, so in some respects I could be considered a "layman" listening to a science outreach seminar.
Yet, of course, as a physicist I have a good basic understanding of the processes at the heart of the radiation emissions that took place two hundred million years ago in that faint, otherwise unconspicuous galaxy in Hydra.
Trevor Hastie, the Stanford University guru on Statistical Learning (he coined the term together with his colleagues Tibshirani and Friedman) is in Padova this week, where he is giving a short course on his pet topic and a seminar. I am happy to report this as this was partly made possible by the European Union-funded network of which I am the project coordinator, AMVA4NewPhysics. But most of the merit is of Prof. Giovanna Menardi, PI of the Padova node of the network, who organized it... And of course I am happy because I am learning from his insightful lectures!
(Above, prof. Menardi introduces the lectures
At 10:00 AM this morning, my smartphone alerted me that in two months I will have to deliver a thorough review on the physics of boson pairs - a 50 page thing which does not yet even exist in the world of ideas. So I have better start planning carefully my time in the next 60 days, to find at least two clean weeks where I may cram in the required concentration. That will be the hard part!
The top quark is the heaviest known matter corpuscle we consider elementary. Elementary is an overloaded word in English, so I need to explain what it means in the context of subatomic particles. If we grab a dictionary we get several possibilities, like e.g.- elementary: pertaining to or dealing with elements, rudiments, or first principles
- elementary: of the nature of an ultimate constituent; uncompounded
- elementary: not decomposable into elements or other primary constituents
- elementary: simple