Another quite positive review of my book "Anomaly! Collider Physics and the Quest for New Phenomena at Fermilab"  (which these days is 40% off at the World Scientific site I am linking) has appeared on Physics Today this month. The piece is by Kent Staley, a philosopher of science who knows the matter more than about anybody who's not a particle physicist, as he himself wrote a quite insightful and engaging book on the road to the top quark discovery and the general issue of collaborative work in these HEP endeavours, "The Evidence for the Top Quark: Objectivity and Bias in Collaborative Experimentation" in 2004. He did so by spending quite some time at Fermilab during the days of the top search, attending meetings and interviewing physicists.

Staley's review (available online here) is, I think, quite accurate in describing the contents of the book. It was quite pleasing for me to read it, as e.g. he seems to have understood the spirit of my book much better than the author of a past review on Physics World, Gavin Hesketh. While Hesketh mildly criticized the book for not containing what he hoped he would find there but didn't - something I do not find terribly informative for his readers -, Staley correctly appraises the material for what it promises to deliver. And as I said he likes it. It is difficult to review a review, so I will rather post below a few quotes.
"Tommaso Dorigo provides an engaging and insightful perspective on the pursuit of
physics discoveries at CDF."

In describing the contents he writes:
"Dorigo takes a breezy approach with that introductory material and deftly employs analogies so that he can get to the real business at hand: Fermilab’s work in the 1990s and 2000s. Much of the narrative centers on the process of discovery, including that of the top quark, long predicted in the standard model. CDF claimed to have found evidence of the top quark in 1994 but ultimately shared credit with DZero for discovering it in 1995."

"Observing and confirming evidence for the top quark required the scientists to make hard choices about both detector technology and approaches to data analysis. Dorigo succeeds in maintaining the lively character of their sometimes arcane disagreements. He explains the scientific aspects of the disputes succinctly and clearly while also bringing their human dimensions to life."

I like it that Staley appreciated my effort in the previous and following quotes:
"Anomaly! reveals the ways in which individual scientists’ personalities, loyalties, and enthusiasms shape their contributions to the labors of the collaboration."
About the final chapters, that deal with the "superjet affair", an anomalous signal of new physics that caused a huge debate within the collaboration, he writes:

"Dorigo skillfully conveys the drama of the debate within CDF. Physicist Paolo Giromini was determined to publish the anomaly but was furiously opposed on the grounds that it could be the result of an unspecified detector effect, among other things. In a contentious collaboration meeting, Melissa Franklin argued that even if the result were an error, the interest of the broader physics community would be better served by publishing a result that might point to important new physics. Passages such as those exemplify the difficulty of balancing the scientific interest in avoiding error with the desire to facilitate discovery."

The only criticism I could detect in the review (and a quite correct observation, indeed) is in the following passage:
"Scholars will be shocked to learn that Dorigo’s book does not include a single citation of any published work or source. He acknowledges a long list of colleagues and other interlocutors who helped him piece together his narrative, but he provides no means for determining the basis for any particular claim. Dorigo’s defense of that peculiarity is that he aims “to teach some physics in an entertaining way” rather than “to contribute to the history of science.” However, to my knowledge, the only comparable monograph on CDF’s history and the top quark’s discovery is my own book, The Evidence for the Top Quark: Objectivity and Bias in Collaborative Experimentation (2004), which pursues a different agenda and emphasizes different aspects. Dorigo’s book is thus almost certainly going to be an important source for anyone interested in the history of CDF, whether or not that was his intent."
All in all, I owe my thanks to Kent for his effort. I am pleased to see this published on Physics Today, although they report the price of the hardcover in the title ($110), which I think scares readers away. The soft cover edition of the book can be bought for about $30 these days, as I mentioned at the beginning, or half of that in its kindle electronic form.

For other reviews of the book (all quite positive!), besides Staley's one and the aforementioned one appeared on Physics World by Hesketh you can check WoitHossenfelderDuPree in physics blogs, Giammanco for the CERN Courier and the "Il Nuovo Cimento", Shears for "Times Higher Education", Durig on a guest post in this blog and on the Amazon site, and another reviewer on Amazon, Alain Pean. There are also a few additional sound bites from Sean Carroll, Edward Witten, Gordon Kane, Gianfrancesco Giudice, Peter Woit at the World Scientific site


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 AMVA4NewPhysics as well as research in accelerator-based physics for INFN-Padova, and is an editor of the journal Reviews in Physics. In 2016 Dorigo published the book “Anomaly! Collider physics and the quest for new phenomena at Fermilab”. You can get a copy of the book on Amazon.