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BaBar Collaboration Caps Meeting Week with 400th Publication

 (Photo by Brad Plummer.)

The BaBar Collaboration is sprinting past another milestone. The collaboration published its 400th paper Tuesday, less than nine years after publishing its first in 2001. That's an average of one publication per week, every week, for nearly nine years straight.

"I do not know of any other collaboration that has achieved such a production rate of outstanding quality science in particle physics, it is really something rare," said BaBar spokesperson Francois Le Diberder.

The milestone paper was published online Tuesday and appears in the November 1, 2009 issue of Physical Review D (Volume 80, Number 9). The study examines differences in the rates at which subatomic particles called B+ mesons and their antiparticle partners, B- mesons, decay to related particles called "charm" and "strange" quarks. Differences in this decay provide an example of matter-antimatter asymmetry. The researchers used the full BaBar dataset to report likely values of a parameter "gamma," which is related to other measurements of particle-antiparticle asymmetries. The goal is to test the behavior of matter and antimatter against the established "CKM" theory, the subject of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics. So far, experimental data including this new paper have upheld the theory.

BaBar boasts nearly 500 primary authors across its 400 papers. It is common for a paper to list a hundred or more authors, but from the earliest days of BaBar's construction through today, every member of the collaboration has contributed to its success. Individual papers are the product of smaller teams within the collaboration, which perform the data analysis specific to that research. During the typical data analysis period, other "Babarians" provide the research team with feedback and ideas, ultimately reviewing the paper before submission.

David Lange, chair of the Publication Board of BaBar, expressed that the large number of authors speaks to the collaborative nature of the project. The tally is even more impressive considering it does not include a large contingent of behind-the-scenes authors. These contributors helped in specific roles—such as data analysis—for many projects, but were never primary authors.

"BaBar is pretty unique that it has gotten to 400 [papers] so quickly," Lange said. "This is in part due to the number of collaborators who work with BaBar, but it also speaks to the physics."

The high-quality results are a testament to the BaBar detector and PEP-II collider. The SLAC BaBar B factory performed marvelously, providing physicists with an extraordinary volume of data they will be mining for many years.

Publication rates were the highest from 2004—2008, during which time BaBar cranked out a staggering 60 papers per year—and the publication rate still going strong. Lange estimates that by the end of December, the collaboration will tally as many as 50 published papers for 2009

—Lauren Knoche
SLAC Today, November 5, 2009