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 9 a.m.)
No. 16: "Basking sharks." A 26-foot, 5,000-pound basking shark washed ashore yesterday on a Long Island beach, and Googlers want to learn more before their next ocean dip. Luckily the basking shark is harmless and eats mostly plankton. Still, according to a 1894 New York Times article , the first person to describe the shark "tried to prove that this was the species of fish which swallowed Jonah ... Jonah could have lodged quite comfortably in a shark's stomach, and it would have been easier to enter that organ than to squeeze his way down the small throat of a whale."
No. 53: "how long is the new harry potter movie?" One hundred fifty-three minutes, according to IMDB . This puts the Half-Blood Prince at just over the series average of 150.3 minutes per Harry Potter film. Those with small children and/or child-size bladders will be glad to hear that the proprietor of the invaluable Runpee.com (a database that tells you the best times in a movie to take a leak) is watching the film right now, according to his Twitter status.
No. 97: "pet airways." In-flight treats are the newest luxury available to America's already pampered pets. Pet Airways is a new pets-only airline, where dogs and cats fly coach instead of whimpering in the cargo hold. Yesterday marked Pet Airways' inaugural flight when a modified turboprop plane took off from Baltimore's BWI Marshall with about 40 cats and dogs bound for Chicago. Tickets cost $150 to $299 one-way, depending on the route, and a trip from New York to L.A. takes about 24 hours. "It's a niche market, no doubt. But the pet community ... they get it," said co-founder Alysa Binder.
Basking shark image courtesy Wikipedia.