The Anatomy of a Scientific Gossip

The announcement of the discovery of a Higgs boson-like particle at CERN will be remembered as one of the milestones of the scientific endeavor of the 21st century. In this paper we present a study of information spreading processes on Twitter before, during and after the announcement of the discovery of a new particle with the features of the elusive Higgs boson on 4th July 2012. We report evidence for non-trivial spatio-temporal patterns in user activities at individual and global level, such as tweeting, re-tweeting and replying to existing tweets. We provide a possible explanation for the observed time-varying dynamics of user activities during the spreading of this scientific "gossip". We model the information spreading in the corresponding network of individuals who posted a tweet related to the Higgs boson discovery. Finally, we show that we are able to reproduce the global behavior of about 500,000 individuals with remarkable accuracy.

Authors: M. De Domenico, A. Lima, P. Mougel, M. Musolesi
Source:
http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.2952

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