MoN12: Twelfth Mathematics of Networks meeting

Antonio Lima (Birmingham) – The anatomy of a scientific rumor

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 “rumor” 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.