NASA's Three Body Problem

Slate's Culture Blog
July 22 2009 11:32 AM

NASA's Three Body Problem

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. 1: "Erin Andrews video peep." Searches for a secretly-filmed tape of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews undressing in a hotel room were the hottest trend on Google today. What to add to the glut of commentary , meta-commentary and meta-meta-commentary surrounding the affair? Over at Slate 's sister publication Newsweek , blogger Jennie Yabroff has an interesting take : "Privacy, it seems, is the new nudity. This is why, when Jennifer Aniston poses topless for the cover of GQ magazine no one does more than shrug, but when paparazzi catch her sunbathing topless, its tabloid fodder for weeks. ... It's as though ... the only time we're truly interested in watching is when they don't want us to look." 


No. 9: "world of warcraft movie." The hugely popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft (subscribers: 11 million) is becoming a movie . The film will be directed by Sam Raimi, the man behind the Spider-Man series and, most recently, the horror flick Drag Me to Hell . Reactions on the official World of Warcraft messageboards ranged from geek-out ("Best. News. Ever!") to skepticism ("You understand that this man ok-ed the dance scene in Spider-man 3 ?").


No. 10: "Three Body Problem." It's not what you have on your hands after a triple-homicide: Solving the Three-Body Problem was in fact a crucial mathematical prerequisite for the 1969 Apollo 11 landing. Before we put a man on the moon, mathematician Richard Arenstorf needed to predict precisely how three bodies—the Earth, the moon, and the Apollo 11 spacecraft—would interact in space. Not an easy task, but Arenstorf solved the problem , received the NASA Medal of Scientific Achievement, and the rest is history.

Photograph of director Sam Raimi by FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty .

Adrian Chen is a freelance writer and an editor at The New Inquiry.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.