Demonstrations in Missouri and the death of Robin Williams had people searching for a greater understanding this week.
Losing a Hollywood legend
First up, the news of Robin Williams’ death sparked tens of millions of searches about the beloved actor’s life and career. Legions of fans searched for every one of their favorite films from Williams’ decades-long career; top topics include Hook, Jumanji and Good Morning Vietnam. Many were looking up his most memorable quotes and roles, including the “O captain, my captain” monologue in Dead Poets Society, Genie’s first scene in Aladdin, and a standup bit about golf. Others searched for tributes by Williams’ fellow actors and comedians, like Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien. And just yesterday, news that the actor had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease led people to the web once again.
Two days after Williams’ death, Lauren Bacall passed away at the age of 89, inspiring people to search for more information on the actress, in particular her marriage to Humphrey Bogart back in Hollywood’s golden age.
Unrest in Missouri
Protests ignited in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri this weekend after an unarmed teenager named Mike Brown was shot and killed by police on Saturday. People turned to search to learn more about the conflict, and searches for terms like [ferguson riot] and [ferguson shooting] rose by more than 1,000%.
Math and science phenomena
Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor of mathematics at Stanford, was awarded the 2014 Fields Medal this week for her work on understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces such as spheres. She is the first woman and first Iranian to win the prize, considered the Nobel Prize of mathematics.
Turning from one sphere to a celestial one, two astronomical events led searchers to the web to learn more. The Perseid meteor shower had its annual peak this week—and got a doodle for the occasion—and the brightest super moon of the year had everyone a little lun-y.
Ice ice bucket
This week saw a rise in searches for [als] thanks to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral campaign to raise money to fight what’s better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. From Martha Stewart to Justin Timberlake to your college roommate, odds are you know someone who’s dumped a bucket of icy water on themselves for the cause. The ALS Association has received millions of dollars in donations as a result, though we don’t have any numbers on how many brave folks took the plunge.
Tip of the week
Still basking in the glow of that super moon? Learn more about our familiar friend in the sky by asking your Google Search app on iPhone or Android, “How far away is the moon?” and get an answer spoken back to you. You can then ask, “How big is it?” Google will understand what “it” you’re talking about and give you the 411.