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. 8: "ASCII Art." Several tech blogs noted today that if you enter "ascii art" into the Google search engine, you'll find an ASCII representation of Google's logo next to the results. ASCII art is a graphic-design technique that uses only the symbols and characters available on your computer keyboard to create images. The most well-known example is probably the truck made out of @ symbols .
No. 24: "death risk rankings." Carnegie Mellon researchers launched a new Web site today that compiles public data from the United States and Europe to compare mortality risks. Visitors to the site can compare the risk of dying as a 22-year-old female in New Jersey, for example, versus the risk of dying as a 22-year-old female in France. (The results indicate it's a good time to move to Europe.) They found that while men have a much higher annual death risk than women, women in their 30s and 40s have a much higher risk of getting cancer than men. Visit Deathriskrankings.com to find out your chances of dying.
No. 98: "Pentacene." This month's issue of Science (out today) contains the first published image of individual atoms within a molecule. IBM scientists were able to capture the image by using an atomic force microscope. The molecule they chose to examine, Pentacene, is a crystal structure known for its properties as an organic semiconductor. Watch a video interview with the scientists here .
Photograph of ASCII art courtesy Porsche997SBS at Wikipedia Commons.