Disappearing tracks and other “tricky” experimental signatures

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As an experimentalist involved in the search for physics beyond the Standard Model at the LHC, one must choose carefully which signatures to pursue. While theoretical guidance in identifying well motivated gaps in the coverage of “natural” BSM extensions is an important ingredient in this choice, unexplored territory is often unexplored for a reason, namely that there are likely non-trivial (“tricky”) experimental difficulties. One must thus consider the risk (time) vs. reward (discovery) in deciding what to pursue. In this talk, I will take you through my though process as I was confronted with this optimization problem in Run 1 of the LHC, using the CMS search for disappearing tracks (sensitive to AMSB supersymmetric scenarios) as an example of what non-trivial experimental difficulties are encountered in such an analysis. I will conclude with a discussion of how my thinking on this topic has evolved for Run 2 of the LHC that has just recently begun.