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More Scientists Treat Experiments as a Team Sport
SCIENCE JOURNAL NOVEMBER 23, 2009
Massive Collider, a Global Collaboration, Has a Bumpy Start; but Sometimes the Work of Crowds
By ROBERT LEE HOTZ
If all goes well, researchers Friday may power up the Large Hadron Collider -- a $6 billion particle accelerator near
Geneva. The atom smasher is so large that a brief status report lists 2,900 authors, so complex that scientists in 34
countries have readied 100,000 computers to process its data, and so fragile that a bird dropping a bread crust can
short-circuit its power supply -- as occurred earlier this month.
Far from trouble-free, the proton accelerator is resuming operations after a catastrophic breakdown in 2008 that
triggered a year of repairs and recriminations. Its large research teams operate on such an elaborate scale that project
management has become one of science's biggest challenges.
Around the world, scientists are cutting across boundaries of place, organization and technical specialty to conduct ever
more ambitious experiments. Inspired by such cooperative enterprises as Linux and Wikipedia, they are encouraging
creative collaborations through networks of blogs, wikis, shared databases and crowd-sourcing.
Once a mostly solitary endeavor, science in the 21st century has become a team sport. Research collaborations are large
more common, more widely cited and more influential than ever, management studies show. Measured by the number