Science First. Competition Second. May 5, 2008Posted by gordonwatts in physics life.
Being an American, I’m a capitalist. Thus, I’m greatly in favor of competition. And there is a big competition coming down the pike: ATLAS vs. CMS. Both are going to be racing to find the not only the big discoveries but also to be the first to see a Z boson, or the first to see a top pair production. In the long run I think this competition will be healthy – it will make sure results come out in a timely fashion and keep the two experiments on their toes. It is most embarrassing, after all, when your competitor points out a big mistake you’ve made!!
A bunch of us were discussing this over lunch the other day at the ATLAS Genova b-tagging workshop. One person was very against the idea of the competition, pointing to the damage it had done at CDF and D0. This surprised me; I’d always thought the competition there was pretty healthy. No, he said, from the outside he sees lots of name-calling and trashing of each other’s results.
Yuck. I hope there are very few people doing that. I can understand where the feeling comes from- you work for months or years only to be beat in the last few weeks. The science is intensity personal. Still…
This lead to us trying to sort out what was good and what was bad about competition. The title of this post was the tag line we came up with.
N.B. Not all American’s are capitalists!