“Stranger and stranger says ALICE”

Virginia Greco

How the enhanced production of strange particles became… ‘popular'.

Cover of the June 2017 issue of Nature Physics

When ALICE's article on the observation, in proton-proton collisions, of an enhanced production of particles containing strange quarks, was accepted for publication on Nature Physics (June 2017, Volume 13 No 6), we couldn't expect that it would attract so much attention from both physicists and the non-expert public.

We have discovered to our satisfaction that, according to Nature Physics analytics, this article scored very high in its rank. Any analytics software tries to quantify the number of Internet users reached and their engagement with the news. The results they provide are not easy to interpret and of course the information included is not complete; nevertheless it is interesting to look at them.

Nature Physics ranks its articles taking into account the traffic on its website and the citations on news outlets as well as on the most common social media.

The recent paper signed by the ALICE collaboration hits 1st place among Nature Physics articles of a similar age, which means published within 6 weeks of either side of the publication date, and is almost the first (1,041st) among the articles of a similar age published in the most renowned scientific journals.

This piece of news was very popular on ALICE social media as well. According to Facebook analytics, the post announcing the observation of this phenomenon and the publication of the corresponding article reached almost 39,000 people and was highly shared and commented. It is the greatest hit of all our Facebook posts!

Similarly, the announcement was very well received in Twitter, where we scored many impressions and a high level of engagement. The attention drawn by the publication of this paper also resulted in an increase of the total number of followers on all of our social media pages.

The relevance of this article (probably together with the attractiveness of the topic) pushed the editors of Nature Physics to portray ALICE on the cover of the June issue. This was just the cherry on the cake.

Alice Matters