Friday, August 14, 2015

Record Number of Authors In Physics Paper - Follow Up

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'!



Douglas Natelson said...

C'mon, Zapper. You know that CMP routinely gets ignored and high energy routinely gets discussed as if it's the entirety of physics. What else is new?

ZapperZ said...

And C'mon, Doug. You know that I have to whine about such a thing. What else is new?



George Williams said...

Whine, whine, wine.

No more whining...

Douglas Natelson said...

But George - that's my responsibility as a blogger! No one wants to read happy prose. Clearly ZZ and I both need to start emulating gawker media, with click-bait headlines: "They wrote a paper with 1100 authors, and you won't BELIEVE what happened NEXT!" "One annoying trick that drives accelerator physicists CRAZY!"

George Williams said...

Hey, Douglas,

The headlines in your last post got me thinking- what if Dr. Oz was a physicist (or just played one on TV)?
"The amazing, miracle data transforming technique used by celebrity supersymmetric particle theorists"
"Celebrity string theorist Michio Kaku and his multi-dimensional relationship with the God particle"
"Celebrity theoretical physicists talk about their appearances on The Big Bang Theory "