A joint paper released by ATLAS and CMS has simultaneously broken two records: the first by finding the most precise estimate of the mass of the Higgs Boson to date, and the second by publishing a paper with the largest ever number of contributors to a single research article.
Only 9 out of the 33 pages of the paper, ‘Combined Measurement of the Higgs Boson Mass in pp Collisions at s√=7 and 8 TeV with the ATLAS and CMS Experiments’, are about the research carried out at CERN. The last 24 pages list each of the 5154 authors and their institutions.
“Hyperauthorship” – a term coined by information scientist Blaise Cronin at Indiana University, Bloomington – is something physicists are becoming increasingly familiar with. This is not the first time that CERN has been the source of mammoth collaborations: previous articles about the launch of the CMS experiment at the LHC and the ATLAS observation of the Higgs Boson have had around 3000 authors. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that complex long-term experiments such as those being carried out at CERN demand the cooperation of many different institutions and countries around the world in order to be successful.
“The biggest problem was merging the author lists from two collaborations with their own slightly different styles,” says Robert Garisto, an editor of Physical Review Letters, hinting at the logistical challenges behind the publication. “I was impressed at how well the pair of huge collaborations worked together in responding to referee and editorial comments.”
Ironically, the authorship of the paper has slightly overshadowed its content. With this research, CERN has narrowed the limits on the mass of the Higgs Boson to ±0.25%, taking us one step closer to identifying the elementary particle thought to explain gravitation and thus unifying the fundamental forces of nature.