If we are what we Google, then Google Hot Trends — an hourly rundown of search terms "that experience sudden surges in popularity" — is the Web's best cultural barometer. Here's a sampling of today's top searches. (Rankings on Hot Trends list current as of 10 a.m.)
No. 1: "Obama Looking at Girl"; No. 2: "Obama Checking out girl"; No. 3: "Mayra Tavares"; and No. 7: "Tail to the chief." You wouldn't think a wire photo of world leaders at the G8 summit would own the top three Google Trends spots. But the Drudge Report, TMZ, and other sites yesterday picked up on a Reuters shot in which President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy appear to be ... appreciating certain assets of Mayra Tavares, a 17-year-old Brazilian delegate to the summit. Since then, the photo has been making the rounds across the web. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times claims, after video review, that it was Sarkozy , not Obama, who was doing the real ogling.
No. 20: "Edgar Martins"; No. 21: "Ruins of the Second Gilded Age." The New York Times on Wednesday removed photos from its Web site after it was revealed that the photos had been digitally manipulated. Metafilter commenters were the first to uncover the manipulation, and the animated simulation of the alteration is striking. The work of Edgar Martins , the photographer responsible for the images, is now being rigorously examined for other instances of manipulation. The Times 's "Lens" blog promises Martin will tell his side of the story soon .
No. 45: "Nikola Tesla Inventions"; No. 53 "Nikola Tesla Death Ray." Google has decided to go all out in celebration of the 153 rd birthday of the pioneer scientist whose experiments formed the basis for modern electric power. The Google logo today features purple sparks and electricity leaping from the letter G, which is drawn in the shape of his Tesla coil transformer. This follows the April celebration of Samuel Morse's birthday with a Morse code Google logo .