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Just a link April 5, 2009

Posted by dorigo in Blogroll, news, physics, science.
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I read with amusement (and some effort) a spanish account by Francis (th)E mule of Michael Dittmar’s controversial seminar of last March 19th. I paste the link here for several reasons: since I believe it might be of interest to some of you, to have a place to store it, and because I am not insensitive to flattery:

“Entre el público se encontraba Tomasso Dorigo […] (r)esponsable del mejor blog sobre física de partículas elementales del mundo”

Muchas gracias, Francis -but please note: my name spells with two m’s and one s!

Anybody with an AAAS subscription willing to do me a favor ? February 20, 2009

Posted by dorigo in news, personal, physics, science.
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Here I am, once again improperly and shamelessly using this public arena for my personal gain. This time, I need help from one of you who has a subscription to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

It so happens that a couple of weeks ago I gave a phone interview to Adrian Cho about the LHC, the Tevatron, and the hunt for the Higgs boson. We discussed various scenarios, the hunt going on at the Tevatron, and other stuff. I am curious to know what Adrian made of our half-hour chat. Today, I realized that the article has been published, but I have no access to the it, since it is available at the Science Magazine site only for AAAS members.

I have to say, Adrian should have been kind enough to forward me a copy of the piece that benefitted from the interiew. I am sure he forgot to do it and once he reads this he will regret it, or maybe he thinks I am a member of the AAAS already… Adrian, you are excused. But this leaves me without the article for a while, and I am a curious person… So if you have an AAAS account and you are willing to break copyright rules, I beg you to send me a file with the article! My email is dorigo (at) pd (dot) infn (dot) it. Thank you!

And, to show you just how serious I am when I say I am shameless, here’s more embarassment: if you are a big shot of the AAAS, do you by any chance give free membership to people who do science outreach to the sole benefit of the advancement of Science  ?

UPDATE: I am always amazed by the power of internet and blogging. These days you just have to ask and you will be given! So, thanks to Peter and Senth, I got to read the article by Adrian Cho.

I must admit I am underwhelmed. Not by the article, which is incisive and to the point. Only, I should know that science journalists quote you for 1% of what you tell them, and use the rest to get informed and write a better piece. In fact, the piece starts by quoting me:

“Three years ago, nobody would have bet a lot that the Tevatron
would be competitive [with the LHC] in the Higgs search. Now I think the tables are almost turned,” says Tommaso Dorigo, a physicist from the University of Padua in Italy who works with the CDF particle detector fed by the Tevatron and the CMS particle detector fed by the LHC.

… but that is the only quote. I can console myself by noting I am in quite good company: experiment spokespersons, Fermilab director Pier Oddone, CERN spokesperson James Gillies…

Do not take their advice, they are not known for their brains! January 7, 2009

Posted by dorigo in internet, news, science.
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Sense about Science, the british organization which

respond[s] to the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence on issues that matter to society, from scares about plastic bottles, fluoride and the MMR vaccine to controversies about genetic modification, stem cell research and radiation […],

has issued their 2008 report on many dangerous claims held by celebrities about scientific issues, exposing their falsity and the scientific facts that prove it. The claims that the Tom Cruises, the Mariah Careys, the  Kelly Osbournes distribute are dangerous not so much for their content, but because of the enormous amplification those claims get by the media, always hunting for anything connected to famous people.

While commendable, the report is a drop in the sea, as it does not address the source of the problem: the pseudo-scientific approach that newspapers and other media deliberately choose to support. It is in fact the responsibility of the journalists  if those claims are reported without commentary or the opinion of a scientist. It would take them the effort of a phone call in most instances, but they fear to bore or distract their readers. That is nonsense! Really, the newspapers and magazines would not sell fewer copies if they appended a few lines of healthy, matter-of-fact criticism to the farnetications of the starlet on duty.

My suggestion would be to expose the journalists rather than the celebrities! A well-organized site targeting professional writers and commenters would go a longer way in this fight against the diffusion of pseudo-science, because these people do it for a living. SAS does not seem to be aiming in that direction. Are readers of this blog aware of any such enterprise ? It would get my support.

In any case, the SAS report is interesting. You can download it from this link for an entertaining break. Happy reading!