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The Anatomy of Scientific Gossip

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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 seminar I will 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. This study has found 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. A possible explanation for the observed time-varying dynamics of user activities during the spreading of this scientific “gossip” is provided. This study proposes a model for the information spreading in the corresponding network of individuals who posted a tweet related to the Higgs boson discovery. The proposed model is able to reproduce the global behavior of about 500,000 individuals with remarkable accuracy.

This talk is part of the Computer Science Lunch Time Talk Series series.

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