Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Record Number of Authors In Physics Paper

I don't know why this has been making the news reports a lot since last week. I suppose it must be a landmark even or something.

The latest paper on the Higgs is making the news, not for its results, but for setting the record for the largest number of authors on a paper, 5154 of them.

Only the first nine pages in the 33-page article, published on 14 May in Physical Review Letters, describe the research itself — including references. The other 24 pages list the authors and their institutions.

The article is the first joint paper from the two teams that operate ATLAS and CMS, two massive detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics lab near Geneva, Switzerland. Each team is a sprawling collaboration involving researchers from dozens of institutions and countries.

And oh yeah, they reduced the uncertainty in the Higgs mass to 0.25%, but who cares about that!

This is neither interesting nor surprising to me. The number of collaborators in each of the ATLAS and CMS detector is already huge by themselves. So when they pool together their results and analysis, it isn't surprising that this happens.

Call me silly, but what I was more surprised with, and it is more unexpected, is that the research article itself is "nine pages". I thought PRL always limits its papers to only 4 pages!

BTW, this paper is available for free under the Creative Commons License, you may read it for yourself.


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