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I am interested in other academics' experiences with large experiments (especially something like the LHC). To what extent do the "engineers" who design and build the machine (solder electronics, assemble quadrupole magnets, etc) interact with "scientists" who determine the program (who might want to test their 11-dimensional model etc)? Do the two sides take an active interest in each other's work and give constructive suggestions to one another? Are the technicians all hired locally? How many in the "engineering" camp have PhDs?

(It's also possible to label the two groups "experimentalists" vs "theorists", though for the former I really mean people involved in the construction and day-to-day operations - I'm not interested in semantics here)

While the Higgs was at a sigma of ~4, I heard that postdocs and PhD students at CERN could volunteer for maintenance and similar tasks, and that those who did would have their names on the "Higgs paper" (hence the notoriously large author lists). Was this true and is it still the case?

  • Why "scientists"? – The Doctor Jan 12 '18 at 18:16
  • @TheDoctor Pushing the science program. What would you suggest? – Valentin Aslanyan Jan 12 '18 at 18:21
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    I don't understand the use of quotation marks there. – The Doctor Jan 12 '18 at 18:30
  • Related: "Experimental Physics & Engineering" on SE.Physics.Meta. tl;dr on it's that experimental physicists were a tad frustrated that Engineering questions were off-topic at SE.Physics since such a large part of what they do in the pursuit of Physics would have to be posted on SE.Engineering. – Nat Jan 12 '18 at 20:39
  • @TheDoctor - I think OP is using quotation marks to make a clearer distinction. Just pretend he used italics instead. – aparente001 Jan 13 '18 at 5:34
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I heard that postdocs and PhD students at CERN could volunteer for maintenance and similar tasks, and that those who did would have their names on the "Higgs paper" (hence the notoriously large author lists). Was this true and is it still the case?

There are a lot of maintenance and monitoring work performed by Ph.D candidates and postdocs at CERN and they may be entitled to have their names in a paper if they comply with the minimum requirements.

There are a minimum of night shifts and work hours in one of the experiments to be completed in order to participate as co-author in the papers produced due to work performed during the internship. If I am not in mistake, you need at least 6 months working in one of the experiments to comply with the minimum work hours demanded for co-authoring.

Usually the ones attending internships at CERN are from experimental particles groups with collaboration to one of the experiments (CMS, ATLAS,etc). They are not purely experimentalists, but I am sure that they can not be purely theorists.

  • To answer the first part of my question, could you please suggest whether or not those who fulfill the criteria are purely experimentalists, or do a lot of the more theory-oriented PhD/postdocs also take part? – Valentin Aslanyan Jan 12 '18 at 19:01

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