The Collaborative Discovery of a new subatomic particle

A Day in the Life…of Scientific Collaborations

What can Chemists and Biologists learn from the Physics Community?

subatomic particles

The CMS collaboration described the first observation of an excited, neutral Xi_b baryon, a particle made up of three quarks, including one beauty quark.

Although the key experiments took place at the CERN Large Hadron Collider, researchers from all over the world participated intellectually.  The drug discovery community is poised to reap the same benefits by watching how the forward-leaning physics community embraces the growing importance of internet accelerated scientific collaboration.

The CMS paper has just two pages of references, followed by twelve pages with approximately a thousand collaborators from hundreds of diverse globally distributed institutions.

For those who quickly claim, “but there is no commercial IP in beauty quarks”, keep in mind that even upon patenting and publishing, information is shared, albeit not directly in a widely-accessible, reusable database format.  Furthermore, today with Projects in Vaults it is possible with temporal control to restrict access down to an individual experiment on a single batch of a molecule with strong security and privacy controls.  With the right technologies, both commercial and humanitarian drug discovery projects can benefit from the natural acceleration of web-based collaboration.

The results of these (and all) published physics studies are immediately available hosted on the open access site Arixv for all others to see or comment on this exciting new discovery – maybe we can learn something from those smart physicists.