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Cited on Science Magazine September 5, 2008

Posted by dorigo in internet, news, personal, physics, science.
Tags: , , ,

This is one of those times when I shamelessly exploit this blog for my personal profit. Do ut des, Doctor Lektar. Let me explain what I am asking you.

A few weeks ago I had a long telephone chat with Adrian Cho, who later wrote a piece for Science Magazine titled “Researchers, Place Your Bets!”, as well as two more concerning the LHC. The articles have appeared in today’s edition, but reading them requires a subscription, or buying a copy of the magazine which, unfortunately, is not distributed in Italy. And I morally object to web subscriptions, so I am not paying it for the piece, be it a cent or a grand.

After the interview I asked Adrian to send me a copy, which he will probably do; if not, the library of my Physics Department will in due time get its own copy. But I am curious of course: time does matter when reading what others have written about you from the information you gave them. If a kind reader of this blog has a subscription, would he or she please download the pdf of the piece(s) and send it(them) to me at dorigo(at)pd(dot)infn(dot)it ?

UPDATE: thanks to Simon (see comment below), who was quick to send the piece. Below I paste the text from the magazine (in the hope that Science Magazine does not sue me for copyright infringement):

“Researchers, Place Your Bets!”

The days before the start-up of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) should be filled with quiet contemplation and reverence for the adventure to come, says physicist Maria Spiropulu. “Now is not the time to speculate,” says the experimenter at the European particle physics lab, CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. “We should be silent and respectful and wait for the data to come.”
Or not. Many physicists seem to think that now is precisely the time to guess at what CERN’s
great particle smasher might find. And some are even willing to put their money where their
favorite theoretical models are and wager on their expectations.
Tommaso Dorigo, an experimenter at the University of Padua in Italy, doubts that the LHC will find evidence of supersymmetry, a theoretical scheme that predicts a massive “superpartner” for every known particle in physicists’ current “standard model.” In the past 10 or 15 years, extremely precise measurements of standard-model particles have indirectly undermined the viability of the notion, Dorigo says. “I realized I don’t believe in the thing,” he says. Dorigo has
bet $1000 with two other physicists that, after the LHC has accumulated a certain amount of data, it will see no sign of supersymmetry.
More precisely, Dorigo has bet that the LHC will see no clear deviations from the standard model of any kind, explains Jacques Distler, a theorist at the University of Texas, Austin, who has $750 of the action. Like a calculating professional gambler, Distler says he took
the bet because it is so open-ended that he likely can’t lose. “History has always been, you explore a new energy range and you see something new,” he says.
For some, not having a bet bespeaks the strength of their predictions. Gordon Kane, a theorist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, says he would gladly wager that the LHC will find supersymmetry, but “nobody I know will bet against it.” Stuart Raby, a theorist at Ohio State University in Columbus, also says he can’t find anyone who will take such a bet. To which Distler says, “I wonder how hard they tried.” The general public can get into the game, too. Online gambling sites and prediction exchanges such as Intrade.com, Hubdub.com, and NewsFutures.com are taking bets on when the Higgs boson will be discovered, whether the Tevatron collider at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in the United States will see it first, and related questions. [Adrian Cho]


High rollers. Tommaso Dorigo (below) wagers that the LHC will see nothing new. Jacques
Distler disagrees and expects to pocket $750 of Dorigo’s money.

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1. Simon - September 5, 2008

The personal profit that you’re aiming for is quite small, so I don’t think that you are completely shameless yet!

Luckily my uni has a subscription, so enjoy…(sends private email)…

2. Dylan Dog - September 5, 2008

“Do ut des, Doctor Lektar”

Sorry to reveal my ignorance, but I don’t understand this allusion. Would you like to explain?

3. dorigo - September 5, 2008

“Silence of the Lambs”, a cult movie. Lektar is Hannibal Lektar, the psychopath played by Anthony Hopkins, interviewed by the FBI investigator played by Jodie Foster.


4. tulpoeid - September 5, 2008

Nice article! Btw opening mozilla on lxplus allows you to read it.

5. dorigo - September 5, 2008

OMG good to know tulpoeid!


6. mfrasca - September 5, 2008


I appreciate your boldness but I wonder why Lubos, a true believer, did not accept the bet.



7. Anonymous - September 5, 2008

I personally intend to find fame with my anonymous messages, rather than from gambling.

8. island - September 5, 2008

Distler says:
“History has always been, you explore a new energy range and you see something new,”

With logic like that, we don’t need theoretical physicists… and thank “god” for that!

9. dorigo - September 5, 2008

Marco, Lubos has another bet out already.

Very good then, anonymous poster from the dept. of physics and astronomy at University of Victoria. ;-)

Island, tsk tsk. We do need them. He just let go with a down-to-earth remark… And who knows if he’s been misquoted.


10. dorigo - September 5, 2008

Actually, anon, I am going to bet a dime you are dr. Justin Albert, a member of the ATLAS group in University of Victoria.


11. Anonymous - September 5, 2008

Nice try. My identity shall never be revealed! Fame awaits, my friend!

12. Anonymous - September 5, 2008

I forgot the “up, up, and away!”

13. island - September 5, 2008

We do need them. He just let go with a down-to-earth remark… And who knows if he’s been misquoted.

You’re right on both counts, of course, and I was being at least half-way sarcastic, but I am very much disenchanted with a field that strictly constrains every last ounce of its brainpower to a single angle of attack for thirty straight years of zero *established* advancement.

Lumo always rants about how time isn’t a factor, but time without progress leans exponentially harder in the direction of crankdom.

the “show-me” world

14. Luboš Motl - September 5, 2008


I have already made a bet, bigger than Tommaso. I am, of course, on the same side as Gordy Kane, probably including the predictions about the speed.

Incidentally, the CMS detector has just been made immune against the looming destruction of the world, see



15. dorigo - September 5, 2008

Hi Lubos,

reference of your bet ? I seem to remember it was re-negotiated after the delays of LHC. Do you have a link describing it ? How much did you bet ?


16. Luboš Motl - September 5, 2008

It’s USD 1,000 but the details are private. It was not meant to be a public enterprise.

17. dorigo - September 5, 2008

Ok, then it is not “bigger” than mine, which is also a 1000$ bet.

Also, being private, it is intrinsically less interesting, because it can be withdrawn, changed (as it has), etcetera. It is not transparent, so to speak. I would encourage you to make it public, by explaining the details….

Such things are interesting to the public, and indeed mine has already fruited two articles in magazines.


18. Luboš Motl - September 7, 2008

Mine is bigger because yours is really minus 1,000 dollars: you got the sign incorrectly.

19. munch - September 7, 2008

“Do ut des, Doctor Lektar”
Sorry to reveal my ignorance, but I don’t understand this allusion. Would you like to explain?

The English soundtrack actually says
“Quid pro quo, Dr. Lecter”

20. dorigo - September 7, 2008

Hmmm now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure that’s also
what the italian version has…. :(

Oh well, these latin quotes are all interchangeable. Qui habet aures audiendi audiat.


21. Here be dragons « Peculiar Velocity - September 14, 2008

[...] about the fundamental structure of matter. All across the blogosphere people are putting forth their predictions for what the Large Hadron Collider will find. The best prediction award goes to [...]

22. Pokies - September 11, 2009


It seems you a quite a funny guy, betting $1000 on accumulation of data. You should be working as a professional gambler if you ever get tired of science.

Hilarious post, I love it.

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