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Thomas Rauscher
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost (J.R.R. Tolkien)

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Manipulative Spam Emails from Internal Medicine Review

Every scientist and researcher should be warned about these! Read the article (and look at my "personal" sample below). And adjust the spam filters of your e-mail as well as of your brain.

In a way, I was happy to read that I am not the only one wondering about this spam. It is spam but on a more sophisticated level. But not sophisticated enough that I did not find it weird to be asked to publish a follow up on an astrophysics article in a medical journal. But had I been in medical research indeed, I couldn't have helped to give it some consideration.

Here is the latest one I just received (even personalized with "Happy New Year"), lots of those went directly into the spam folder within the past year(s):

_"Dear Dr. Rauscher,
I wish you a happy new year. We talked some months ago about the idea of publishing a followup article to the one you authored entitled "Solution of the ?-potential mystery in the ? process and its impact on the Nd/Sm ratio in meteorites". Is now a better time for you to write something? Is there anything I can do to help? If now isn't the right time for you to work on a followup to this article, I would certainly be interested in knowing more about your current research.

I will tell you more about the journal in case you don't still have our earlier emails. The Internal Medicine Review is a hybrid journal with optional open access. The issues are monthly, and published both online and in print. The submission deadline is flexible.

Please get back to me at your earliest convenience.

Dr. Lisseth Tovar
Senior Editor
Internal Medicine Review (IMR) "_

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Sorry it took so long... But hey, today is the day: Our new album «Land Ho!» is finally out!! We hope you like it as much as we do. It's recorded with so much love that there was simply no faster way to do it :) Thanks for your patience. We love you.

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Death of the diphoton bump

In June 2015, after a two-year upgrade, the Large Hadron Collider turned on again.  In its first run it had discovered the Higgs boson, a particle 133 times heavier than the proton — and the main missing piece of the Standard Model.   When the collider restarted, with a lot more energy, everyone was hoping to see something new.

In December 2015, two separate detectors saw something: pairs of photons, seemingly emitted by the decay of a brand new particle 6 times heavier than the Higgs boson.  

But was it for real?   Maybe it was just a random fluctuation — noise, rather than a true signal. 

It seemed unlikely to be just chance.  Combining the data from both detectors, the chance of coincidentally seeing a bump this big at this location in the photon spectrum was one in 100 thousand. 

But in particle physics that's not good enough.  Physicists are looking for lots of different things in these big experiments, so rare coincidences do happen.  To feel safe, they want to push the chance down to one in 3 million.  That's called a 5 sigma event.

So they looked harder. 

Meanwhile, theoretical physicists wrote 500 papers trying to explain this so-called diphoton bump.  It turned out to be easy to make up theories that have a particle of the right sort.  Not so easy, though, to make a convincingly elegant theory.

New data have come in.  The bump is gone.

Theorists are bummed.  A particle physicist named Adam Falkowski wrote:

The loss of the 750 GeV diphoton resonance is a big blow to the particle physics community. We are currently going through the 5 stages of grief, everyone at their own pace, as can be seen e.g. in this comments section. Nevertheless, it may already be a good moment to revisit the story one last time, so as  to understand what went wrong.

In the recent years, physics beyond the Standard Model has seen 2 other flops of comparable impact: the faster-than-light neutrinos in OPERA, and the cosmic microwave background tensor fluctuations in BICEP.  Much as the diphoton signal, both of the above triggered a binge of theoretical explanations, followed by a massive hangover. There was one big difference, however: the OPERA and BICEP signals were due to embarrassing errors on the experimentalists' side. This doesn't seem to be the case for the diphoton bump at the Large Hadron Collider. Some may wonder whether the Standard Model background may have been slightly underestimated,  or whether one experiment may have been biased by the result of the other... But, most likely, the 750 GeV bump was just due to a random fluctuation of the background at this particular energy. Regrettably, the resulting mess cannot be blamed on experimentalists, who were in fact downplaying the anomaly in their official communications. This time it's the theorists who  have some explaining to do.

For more, see Adam Falkowski's blog.  He goes by the name of "Jester":

By now we have to admit it's quite possible that the Large Hadron Collider will not see any new physics not predicted by the Standard Model.   Unfortunately, this triumph of the Standard Model would leave a lot of big questions unanswered... for now.

The video explains the diphoton bump in simple terms.  It was made back in the early optimistic days.


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don't do science with complicated math on planes!
an unexpected side effect of science (and math) illiteracy.

perhaps scientists will not be allowed to fly anymore?  ;-)

there are even scientists researching the behavior of atomic nuclei, who sometimes would like to work during a flight...

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nowadays even computers can't add anymore...
Apparently you can't just assume that the cash register can add numbers up correctly! 

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We need 10 000 votes for the #VLT to become available as a #LEGO ® Kit! Image credit: ESO/F. Snik/M. Zamani
Vote here:

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There's a fundamental tension between the media's desire for novelty and the scientific method

(and that is not only true for social sciences.)

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With all the current discussion about refugees, this is not just an ad for a university but shows what it means to make a difference.

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When it comes to science, Wikipedia is a useful resource for experts, but terrible as an encyclopedia (@j_timmer).
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