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Theorists Flood Cornell e-Print Server Following Evidence of New Particle


Cornell’s arXiv preprint server – developed by Info Sci’s Paul Ginsparg – has experienced a flood of research papers in the last few weeks following tantalizing evidence of a possibly new elementary particle discovered at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland.

According to Ginsparg’s data, which serves as the basis for the Nature article, 150 research manuscripts on the hypothetical particle have been posted on arXiv since December 15. That’s when officials at CERN – the lab that hosts the LHC – announced they saw “hints” of a new bosom particle. Although the statistical significance of LHC’s findings is low, that hasn’t deterred theoretical physicists from cranking out papers aimed at analyzing LHC’s data.

From the Nature article:

The influx of articles dwarfs two previous events that excited theorists, says Paul Ginsparg, a physicist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, who founded arXiv. One wave of manuscripts followed the controversial announcement that neutrinos could travel faster than light, as spotted by the Italy-based experiment OPERA in 2011; another came after the discovery of gravitational waves using the South Pole-based BICEP2 telescope in 2014. Neither of those claims held up after scrutiny.

It is all the more remarkable in that, unlike the earlier cases, the particle claims from the LHC have not yet been put into writing. “This is all based on the live webcast from the CERN event,” Ginsparg says. Submissions to arXiv made after 16.00 US Eastern Standard Time each day do not appear until the following day — a cut-off time set by arXiv’s operators — and the timing of the submissions shows that physicists are rushing to e-mail in their papers just before this deadline, Ginsparg adds.

Online for more than 20 years, arXiv is an open-access service that allows scientists from across various fields to share research before it’s formally published. Last year, arXiv hit 1 million submissions.