Remember just barely a couple of months ago, I mentioned about the brouhaha regarding the record number of authors in a combined CMS/ATLAS paper out of the LHC/CERN? In a Physics Today article, there's a bit more on this, especially on the possibly "light-hearted" nature of the Wall Street Journal article that first mentioned this.
As I've mentioned in the earlier entry, I don't quite know why this is such a freaking big deal. The experiments are getting to be more and more difficult, it requires a more complex instrument, and thus, require a lot more people. The fact that this paper actually combined the results from two HUGE collaboration should, as expected, results in a lengthy authors list. What is the big issue here?
Unfortunately, it gives the wrong impression to the rest of the public. The fact that areas such as condensed matter physics, which produces way, WAY more papers than high energy physics and usually tend to have a significantly small number of authors, somehow has been ignored (Phys. Rev. B, for example, which publishes papers in condensed matter/material science, is produced TWICE a month, and each edition contains TWO volumes!). And yet, the exception here has been used as a rule for the entire field of physics! Where is the logic in that?
And for the record, I had published a paper in PRL, on an experimental work, no less, and the paper only had THREE authors. Count em'!