Scientific paper sets new record with 5,154 authors

CMS detector in a cavern 100 m underground at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. Photo Credit: CMS

A scientific paper published in Physical Review Letters, one of the most prestigious journals in the field of physics, has set a new record for the number of co-authors it sports.

Out of 33 pages in the article, 24 list names of 5,154 authors and affiliations, leaving only 9 pages to the research and references, Nature reported.

The paper presents a measurement of the Higgs boson mass with 0.2% precision based on the combined data samples from ATLAS and CMS – two of the seven particle detector experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at Switzerland-based CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) with the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.

In fact, looking at the experiments and collaboration involved, it is not surprising why the list of authors is so long.

The website of ATLAS describes the experiment as a virtual United Nations of 38 countries as it involves 3,000 physicists, from 177 universities and laboratories, “working together in harmony” “in this troubled world”.

The CMS experiment “is one of the largest international scientific collaborations in history, involving more than 3,500 scientists, engineers, and students from 184 institutes in 42 countries”, according to its website.

Studies usually from each experiment include contributions from quadruple-digit authors.

When the paper submitted to the journal, CERN said the first ATLAS and CMS joint work, contributed to by over 5,000 scientists from over 50 different countries, have achieved the most precise measurement of the Higgs boson mass yet and among the most precise measurements done at the LHC to date (mH = 125.09 ± 0.24 (0.21 stat. ± 0.11 syst.) GeV).

The Higgs boson is an elementary particle as proposed within the Standard Model of particle physics.

As the Standard Model does not predict the mass of the Higgs boson, it must be measured through experiment.

“The Higgs Boson was discovered at the LHC in 2012 and the study of its properties has just begun. By sharing efforts between ATLAS and CMS, we are going to understand this fascinating particle in more detail and study its behaviour,” CMS spokesperson Tiziano Camporesi said on the joint work.

“CMS and ATLAS use different detector technologies and different detailed analyses to determine the Higgs mass. The measurements made by the experiments are quite consistent, and we have learnt a lot by working together, which stands us in good stead for further combinations,” said ATLAS spokesperson Dave Charlton.