Monday, 2 May 2011


I love experimental particle physics papers. They have so many authors! The STAR experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory recently created some anti-helium-4 nuclei. 18 of them, in fact. The effort took no less than 395 authors (+/- 10 or so).

They made the anti-helium nuclei by colliding gold atoms at ridiculously high speeds and detected them in this thing:

They call their detector the Time Projection Chamber. That's the other cool thing about particle accelerator experiments: cool names! I feel inspired to come up with cool names for bits of my experiment, because the current terminology is a bit lackluster. In reality I have "magneto-optical trap" and "science cell", but really something like "atomic decelerator" and "atom interrogation chamber" could make it seem more exciting, or something that makes a cool acronym, like HERCULES or GUNDAM.

Any suggestions? There are lasers and magnetic fields involved, if that helps!


  1. ...395 authors? How on earth does that work?

  2. Particle accelerators are massively complex and require a lot of people to design, build, and operate them, and also people to analyze data. Most of these people are university researchers and students. They all get a piece of the pie when papers get published!

    In practice, I don't know how that many people coordinate writing a paper!