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Friday, 29 January 2016

Friday wrap-up: diphoton uncertainties, dark matter uncertainties...

Wherein I list some (mostly) recent happenings, ramble a bit, and provide links, in an order roughly determined by importance and relevance to particle physics. Views are my own. Content very definitely skewed by my own leanings and by papers getting coverage, and it may not even be correct. It is a blog after all...

  • There's quite a bit of discussion over at Résonaances (see also the comments) surrounding the Davis-Fairbairn-Heal-Tunney paper proposing an underestimated systematic in the background parameterisation used in the ATLAS diphoton analysis. This (and related) discussion looks to have aided (according to the acknowledgments) the preparation of another paper from Bradley Kavanagh, which seems to clarify the issue. In that paper it is written:

    Davis et al. introduce a different possible parametrisation for the background (which was also validated by a Monte Carlo study) and find that the significance of the excess is further reduced with respect to the k = 1, fixed-N case. However, the empty bins at high mγγ were not included in that analysis, leading to a background fit which overestimates the high mγγ event rate. Indeed, using the Davis et al. background parametrisation (with free normalisation) in this analysis gives a local significance of 3.8σ for a free-width resonance. This does not discount the possibility that exploring a wider range of possible background functions may impact the significance of the 750 GeV excess, but the correct constraints from the entire range of mγγ should be taken into account.
  • A few-interesting-papers appeared concerning baryonic effects on the local dark matter velocity distribution, of interest for interpreting direct detection experiments (see Matthew Buckley's blog for a write-up of one of them). Each of the papers takes a number of simulated Milky Way-like galaxies and looks at the dark matter distribution at Solar radius. Naturally, due to the small number of simulated galaxies, the papers reach slightly different conclusions. What is clear, though, is that there are significant uncertainties in both the local density and the local velocity distribution, which means that the usual direct detection limits you see drawn on e.g. σSI versus mχ space should be taken with a small grain of salt, since they assume the standard halo model. Also of note is that these effects alone cannot ameliorate tension with the DAMA/CoGeNT events. Further work in this area will be interesting to follow as additional (and more detailed) simulations become available.
  • Links without thinks
    • .Mic: "With One Hashtag, Female Astronomers Share Their Heartbreaking Stories of Harassment"
    • Nicolas Gisin via IQOQI: "Thought police – on arXiv?"
    • BackReaction: "Does the arXiv censor submissions?"
    • nature: "Hawking’s latest black-hole paper splits physicists"
    • Ars Technica: "The search for dark matter heats up"
  • A sad day for Comic Sans enthusiasts everywhere (nowhere?) -- apparently no more from Fabiola...

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