I recently wrote about a new type of chemical bond for another online and print magazine. Specifically, I wrote of the discovery of a novel type of hydrogen bond that hooks up a boron-hydrogen (B-H) to the cloud-like ring of pi electrons on an aromatic, benzene, ring. Interesting chemically, certainly. But, intriguingly this news item has kind of gone viral, at least relative to the other news stories I've written for the magazine over the years (previous ones have been popular, but this is a notch above).

Feedly, the newsreader app, reckons this article been shared more than several thousand times as of today, my previous best was about a quarter of this current spike. It seems quite exceptional. Muckrack reveals more insights showing the "reach" of the article. My Sciencebase page on Facebook, from whence I linked the article got to almost all of the page's fans, which is unusual. In fact, that is an order of magnitude greater than the everyday posts I run on there about other topics such as wondrous astronomical discoveries, computer security breaches and patches, my latest festival photo gallery or a new song I've written and recorded.

For comparison, an item about the biochemistry of metastatic cancer niches, which seems as esoteric as a boron hydrogen bond, reached only about 5% of the page's fans (Facebook's algorithm can be very frustrating in this way). Similarly, a link to an item debunking the finding that chocolate supposedly makes you smarter achieved about the same level of engagement. Incidentally, the actual numbers are all public via the various systems I've mentioned, Feedly and Muckrack specifically I'm not giving away trade secrets, you could find them yourselves if you wanted to have a look at the specifics and check.

Now, my marginally over-inflated ego would have me believe that it's my marvelous way with words that has enticed the readers in. But, of course, it may well be down to at least two fellow science writers with large followings sharing and retweeting the article that has contributed to the intense surge of activity on this particular item. If we take a look at the magazine's Facebook page, which has a staggering three-quarters of a million followers, if not more, anyone can see that it's doing well there too with thousands of likes and shares and lots of comments (some sensible and on-topic, others...well...you know what comment threads on news pages can be). The other news items on their page are orders of magnitude lower in engagement, and of a similar proportionality to that which I mentioned earlier on the Sciencebase Facebook page.

It's odd, why has this particular piece of chemistry caught the attention and perhaps imagination of so many readers? The graphic used by the magazine is good looking, but as with the text it illustrates it's as esoteric as the research itself I'd posit. I'd be curious to know what it is about the article that's lent it such appeal. But, more than that, given that my original headline for the piece was going to be "Bond's aromatic strength raises non-classical specter", I wonder whether it would have gained less or more of the sustained traction as it has with the title "New type of hydrogen bond discovered"...

David Bradley blogs at Sciencebase Science Blog and tweets @sciencebase, he is author of the popular science book "Deceived Wisdom".