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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 »



Sep 15 2021 | comment(s)

In the ancient past, when a good portion of blog followers were interested in the writers' lives more than in actual content, I used to write a lot more about private issues here. I don't do that so often any more mainly because I think the interest of readers has shifted - or better, the composition of readers has changed. But I am not less keen to discuss private issues today than I was ten years ago. Privacy is not among the priorities of a blogger true to him- or herself anyway, at least from my point of view.
So, what am I up to these days? I thought I could give you some update. Maybe in one of my future posts I will also summarize the various research activities I am engaged in as of late, but let's keep this out of today's post. 
Today I am giving the opening speech at a workshop with the same title of this post. The workshop takes place at the Center for Particle Physics and Phenomenology of Université catholique de Louvain, in Belgium, and it is in a mixed formula - we will have 33 in-person attendees and 72 more attending by videolink. 
The workshop is organized by the MODE collaboration, which I lead. It is a small group of physicists and computer scientists from 10 institutions in Europe and America, who have realized how today's deep learning technology allows us to raise the bar of our optimization tasks - we are now targeting the full optimization of the design of some of the most complex instruments ever built by humankind, particle detectors.
In a recent post I discussed how even the simplest kind of data display graph - the histogram - can sometimes confuse and be misinterpreted. Which is a total howler, as graphs are supposedly means of clarification and immediate, at-a-glance, interpretation of data summaries.
The discovery of a new exotic hadron, named T_cc+,  was announced by the LHCb Collaboration a little over a week ago. Unlike some previous discoveries of other resonances by the LHC experiments (dozens have been announced since 2010 by LHCb, and to a lesser extent by CMS and ATLAS) the one of the T_cc+ is is very significant and exciting, and it promises to advance our understanding of low-energy QCD, with repercussions across the board.

Time and again, I get surprised by observing how scientific graphs meant to provide summarized, easy-to-access information get misunderstood, misinterpreted, or plainly ignored by otherwise well-read (mis-)users. It really aches me to see how what should be the bridge over the knowledge gap between scientists and the general public becomes yet another hurdle. 
When subnuclear particles traverse matter they give rise to a multitude of physical phenomena. The richness of the different processes is a crucial asset for the construction of sensitive particle detectors, and it is interesting in its own right. Indeed, it has been a very vigorously pursued field of research of its own ever since the end of the nineteenth century, with the discovery of X rays
(produced when electrons released their kinetic energy as they reached the cathode of an accelerating tube), and then after Rutherford's team bombarded gold foils with alpha particles (helium nuclei) emitted by a radioactive substance.