I was notified today that within three weeks I am due to write a proceedings article for the "Physics in Collision" conference I attended in Kobe two weeks ago. The task is not too stimulating for me, given that the material it has to cover just consists in projections of the discovery reach of the Higgs boson, based on simulated data; but to add unexcitement to the whole thing, I found out that I am bound to stay within the limit of two pages of text.

Two pages! I have seen author lists taking three times as much space, and even Abstracts sometimes are longer than that. I am definitely less than enthusiastic about putting together such an irrelevant writeup for the proceedings book. Luckily, my career does not depend any longer on how many such scarcely relevant papers I publish.

It occurs to me that through this blog I have repeatedly tried to get readers involved in doing real particle physics work: by correcting my drafts, by suggesting functions to fit the data, by proposing specific discriminating kinematical variables for signal searches, and so on. These usually turn out to be successful ventures, and quite interesting experiments in Science popularization. They also reflect my philosophy about the fact that scientists should always try and get people more involved in the science they do, with all the means available and some inventiveness. Hence my idea: getting you to help me write my proceedings this time!

So here is the deal. You give a look at the material which I presented in Kobe (see here and here), put together a draft, and send it to me. It should not take you too much time to do it: just cutting and pasting the text in the first poster would already overflow the allotted space! However, some vision and writing skill is certainly needed. Please note, the material on which it has to be based is what is contained in the first poster; but information contained in the second can also be included. The title should be "Search for the Standard Model Higgs boson with the CMS detector". The style of the text should follow the guidelines given here.

As I receive the text, if I approve its style and contents I brush it off, correct any mistake or misrepresentation, make sure your name is in good evidence in the acknowledgements section [of course, I would be much happier to offer you to co-author the article, but I think this would violate some CMS rule, unless you too are a CMS member], and then send it to the arxiv and to PIC 2009 for inclusion in the proceedings book. As an additional benefit, I promise to send you my private copy of the proceedings as I receive it in print. Usually these are nicely crafted volumes, and this year the quality of the talks has been very good, so I am sure it will be interesting reading material (well, except our contribution!).

Oh, and: in case I find your try not suitable for publication on the proceedings, I will publish it in this blog, unless you prefer me not to do so. I doubt I will be flooded with contributions, but if that were the case, I would rank them by quality (and choose the first for publication), and then ask Hank Campbell to send a prestigious Scientific Blogging t-shirt to all non-selected attempts which pass some minimal quality criteria, at my sole discretion. But hurry: the deadline for inclusion in the proceedings book is October 15th!


As some old sage once said, the roads to perdition are paved with good intentions. After I posted the above proposal in a haste, and left for lunch, I started pondering on the matter from an angle I had not considered before. A proceedings paper referring to a poster presented at a conference on behalf of a scientific collaboration is, technically, a paper which represents the whole collaboration. And I can imagine that some colleague within the experiment might be upset to know that I am offering unknown individuals to help me write it.

Now, I do not want to impersonate a modern-times Penelope, who builds a reputation and a career in particle physics with his Science, and in the meantime destroys it with his blog. I have reason to believe that the proposal I made above might be considered an offense by some, and cause trouble to both the science and the blog.

I do mean to say that I consider the business of publishing proceedings a rather meaningless ritual. However, I do not mean to battle it. So I have to take back the offer I made above, or better, modify it.

I do encourage you to write a 2-page summary of the material presented and described in the poster, which I published here a few weeks ago, and in the CMS papers which constitute the supporting material. However, I cannot take your contribution as the basis for the article. Actually, I do not think I will write a contribution at all, because I really am busy with other occupations.

In the end, I think I can still offer publication here for the best contributions, the book of the proceedings for the winner, and maybe still get Hank to send around a few T-shirts to those who participated... In the meantime I will try to find out whether in a future similar occasion I can organize something similar with the placet of the management of the collaboration!