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Seth Zenz | Imperial College London | UK

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Not Every Question’s Answer is a Conference Result

You haven’t heard from me in a while. You didn’t hear from me for two months between May 9 and July 9 in 2010 either, and the reason is the same: ICHEP. This year will be the 36th International Conference on High Energy Physics, and it promises to feature a full suite of updates from the LHC. Have we found anything new? Have our excesses in the Higgs search gotten bigger or smaller? Only time will tell, although Aidan wrote a bit of a preview last week. It’s always very rewarding to show results at a big conference, as I ended up doing in my own small way two years ago, and it’s hopefully very exciting for you to see what we’ve come up with. What we talk less about is just how busy we are, which comes back to why I haven’t been blogging much.

Things have gotten easier for me in the past week, in fact. Before that, I was working 12 or more hours a day and falling further and further behind. Now I’m working 10 or 12 hours a day and keeping up, which is a big improvement. What changed? Well, I was working on two projects for the overall CMS Higgs to bottom quarks analysis, and it turns out that one of them didn’t work. It had huge errors and provided only minimal gains to our overall analysis, and there was simply no way to improve it.

That’s disappointing. It means that part of my work toward ICHEP showed up in an internal CMS talk, but won’t be directly part of what we show at the conference. But it is part of our overall scientific work. We’re in the business of answering questions about the universe, and sometimes the answer to a very specific question is just, “You can’t learn anything more that way, at least not right now.” There was no way to know except to try.

In the meantime, I’m responsible for a bunch of measurements that other parts of the broader analysis need. And there is plenty to do for those!

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