Physics analysis vs blogging: 6-0 December 23, 2007Posted by dorigo in personal, physics.
I have been blogging for three years now, and I enjoy it a lot – I find it stimulating to share my views and sometimes have to defend them, as well as to distribute information related to my job to peers, and of course to make my little bit of outreach and explain particle physics to laymen. I spend blogging overall more than one hour a day, which is an outrageously large amount of time, considering I could be accused of stealing it from my job and from my family. On the other hand, the truth is I am stealing this time from other lazy occupations I used to entertain myself with: chess, or bridge, or other internet activities of lesser value.
During these three intense years I have often found out that the urge of posting something interesting (at least to me) every day or so supersedes other pastimes and obligations. I almost always manage to find the time for a post. Almost.
In the last couple of weeks I have started a full immersion in a difficult analysis for the CMS experiment: attempting the extraction of a signal of associated production of a top quark pair and a Higgs boson, with top quarks decaying into hadrons and missing energy, and the Higgs decaying to a pair of b-quark jets. The analysis of course is based on simulated events, but it is a very important first step into understanding the extractability of the signal from a final state nobody has cared to study before. So, the issue is stimulating. Actually, the complexity of the task -the signal is buried in a background at least 10,000 times larger- makes it even more exciting.
So, during these last few weeks I have found out that when I am on to something like finding a signal or coding a smart algorithm for the search, I forget everything else, including my blog! I think this is a very healthy reaction which shows I have not spent all my cartridges yet as a physicist. Of course, I have had other exciting studies to delve into during the past three years, but I admit this last one is really absorbing all my intellectual energy. Right now is a Sunday evening, I am home, with my family, the christmas tree is a few feet from me, and here I am, finally finding ten minutes to write on my blog while a root macro is running five million events to produce a relative likelihood distribution…
It would be nice if I could discuss the analysis in more detail, but I have to go by the rules: even if the data I am analyzing is simulated, it still refers to the CMS detector and so I cannot divulgate anything of what I am finding. I can only say that there is good reason why associated top and Higgs production was taken off the list of golden signatures at the LHC (and the recent CMS Physics TDR in fact does not even bother discussing it): the signal is indeed darn tough to find… But I have my own aces up my sleeve, and I am confident I can prove that something could in principle be squeezed out of the very uncommon “jets + missing Et” top signature – the one that allowed me and my PhD student, Giorgio Cortiana, to publish the third-best top pair cross section measurement, three years ago.