It is nice to see that, despite my lack of productivity these days, things are progressing steadily. It is the best part of having students working at projects you set up for them. While I am busy with writing proceedings for Moriond, making copies of papers I co-authored for a job application, and dealing with other silly things, my students are breaking ground.
Giorgio, who's in his last year of PhD studies, is giving the finishing touches to a very important new analysis (I wrote shortly about that here). Basically, he's found scores of top decay candidates that other analyses discard - for not triggering on them, or for applying too tight cuts on lepton identification, or for not looking at tau decay topologies -, and devised a method to compute backgrounds, such that he can claim he has 60 top events in a sample of 100 events. Now, the nice thing is that he is producing plots which demonstrate that those 100 events do have a component that's markedly top-like, in several discriminating distributions of kinematical quantities.
Marco, who's in his second year of PhD studies, has started producing interesting results on simulations of the pixel detector of CMS. The idea we're pursuing is of determining whether the pixels (tiny squares of silicon which record the passage of ionizing particles through them, thus allowing a very precise reconstruction of the particle path) can be used while triggering the events with jets, to save events with low jet energy from being discarded, if they are useful for extracting interesting physics signals.
Pietro, a undergraduate student, has started to study b-quark jets, to determine whether with the information available with the CDF tracker b-jets can be better measured (the energy is usually measured in the calorimeter, but if you know a jet originates from a b quark, you can use the information to your profit).
Andrea, another undergraduate student, is looking for J/psi candidates inside the jets of the events we are using to extract a Z->bb decay. B quarks can yield these interesting particles in their decay, through the reaction B->J/psi K. The J/psi is a very famous particle, and I think it deserves a post here, which I can only promise for now. In two words, it was its discovery in 1974 at Brookhaven and SLAC that provided the first unquestionable proof that quarks were not mere mathematical tools but real entities buried within the hadrons particle physicists studied day in and day out. It was like a earthquake in high energy physics, and today, 30 years from then, seeing a sharp peak from the decay J/psi-> mu mu (mu=muons, the heavier version of electrons) over a flat background is still an emotion, and counting these particles provides insight on the sample composition of our dataset, which is a valuable piece of information for our analysis.