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Why do some discoveries fade into obscurity while others blaze a new trail the moment they are published? More mysteriously, why do some research papers remain dormant for years and then suddenly explode with great impact upon the scientific community? The last group, dubbed "sleeping beauties," is the subject of a new study from the Indiana University Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing's Center for Complex Networks and Systems.  "This study provides empirical evidence that a paper can truly be 'ahead of its time,'" said Alessandro Flammini, an associate professor of informatics and corresponding author on the study. "A 'premature' topic may fail to attract attention even when it is introduced by authors who have already established a strong scientific reputation."

A prime example is a seminal paper by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen that laid out the "EPR Paradox," a major puzzle in quantum entanglement theory in which particles with past interaction remain linked in their behavior no matter their distance, including across a galaxy. The IU study found that the paper, published in 1935, didn't receive widespread citation until 1994.

The drowsiest sleeping beauty in the study came from the influential statistician Karl Pearson. His paper that was published in 1901 in the journal Philosophical Magazine did not "awaken" until 2002.

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