In a recent post, Gordon Watts notes that an overview preprint by a CDF collaborator mentiones CDF as the experiment who discovered the top quark. He does not take it personally, but points out: "it was discovered by both CDF and DZERO -- they submitted their papers minutes apart from each other."
I replied to his post with what is pasted below....
I agree with you, the fellow from CDF should have paid the due homage to D0 as well.
However, if you stop the story there, you misrepresent the picture. As you well know, CDF did observe in 1994 a small sample of ttbar events, and from it measured a mass of the top quark which is dead-on the most precise measurements to date (174 GeV was 1994's CDF measurement, 173.5+-3.5 is what is now the best world average). This was published in April 1994, one year before the official "discovery" papers by CDF and D0, back to back on PRL.
What happened was that in 1995, with additional statistics (which, however, included the same core events used in the 1994 paper) CDF decided to claim for observation of the top quark, and gave D0 a week before going public, as previously agreed. D0 did put together what they had, to avoid being left out of the discovery, but in the pressure of time they could not provide a precise mass measurement (they measured 199 GeV, a value now excluded by more precise measurements by both D0 and CDF), and their signal's significance was somehow arguable. No blame on that, of course their top candidates were just as good as CDF's. But I think I am not in my political correct mood today, and I believe that once the story is told fully, few would disagree that CDF did observe top quark production one year before D0 did.
I only need to add that I posted this comment only to poke Gordon into expanding on this subtle issue of ownership of scientific discoveries. Gordon was one of the main contributors to the 1994 paper by CDF!