Ask.com’s Answer to Why the Sky is Blue & Other Questions we Ask




Want to know what we as a group think about, worry about, and are curious about? Ask.com gives insight by naming the top searches of the year. 2008 was a year of worries about gas prices and the economy. We sought out deals on vacations, used cars, and cheap apartments.

Ask.com, the 7th largest search engine in the US gets 70 million unique monthly searches, according to comScore Media Metrix (Oct. 2008). Last year we had different things on our minds, and the categories of queries has changed. Still, the #1 search last year for politicians during the primaries is now president elect Barack Obama.

The famous celebrity moms who captured our attention was a pregnant Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, a young and pregnant Jamie Lynn Spears, and a perky politician most of us hadn’t heard of until this year: Sarah Palin.

We go to search engines to learn about life. Questions we might have asked our mothers or grandparents, we now type into that search box on a web page. And search engines are how many of us make a living.

It was an election year, and there are hints of that in the top searches, but not many. This year we wanted to know these things pertaining to our private lives, our work life, and our financial life:

1. How do I get pregnant?
2. How do I lose weight?
3. How do I write a resume?
4. How much is minimum wage?
5. How much is my car worth?
6. How do I change my name?
7. What is the meaning of life?
8. How do I register to vote?
9. Why is the sky blue?
10. How do I download videos?

I guess parents have been asked why the sky is blue, and went to ask.com to ask for the answer. In case you also wonder, here is ask.com’s answer:

“The sun’s rays hit the Earth’s atmosphere, where the light is scattered by nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the air. The blue wavelength of this light is affected more than the red and green wavelengths, causing the surrounding air to appear blue. At sunset, the sun’s light passes farther through the atmosphere, deflecting and decreasing the blue in the air. Scattering by dust particles and pollution in the air causes the sunset to appear red.”

Now, what about the meaning of life? Search engines are one big Dear Abby. Surprisingly, the meaning of life is not the domain of religions, at least on search engines. There are no paid search ads from churches, but plenty of philosophies on Ask.com.

Interestingly, Google has a few more links from religious sources and some paid ads from churches. Whatever the answer, it’s an interesting question for a search engine.

  • http://www.gadgets4nowt.co.uk PS3

    I would have hoped to see number 1 as “how do I stop myself getting pregnant”. Maybe that is because I am looking from the perspective of a dad with a teenage daughter!

  • http://smallbizbee.com Matt

    Will ask.com help me answer the 4,000,000 questions a day my 3 year old asks me? If it has the answer to “why” they could charge a 3 figure subscription fee and I would still sign up! =)

    Matt

    Matt’s last blog post..POLL: What Would You Like to See?

  • http://www.paystolivegreen.com Patrick

    These all seem to be geared towards teenagers. I guess that must be Ask.com’s main audience because I don’t know any adult that would ask the first quesiton.

    Patrick’s last blog post..Super-Yachts Go Green With Wind and Solar Energy

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  • http://AureliusTjin.com Aurelius Tjin

    Mine would be: ‘how do I get rich by the end of 2009?’ lol

    Well, just joking! There are more vital intangible things to worry about like, happiness, friendships, satisfaction, sense of fulfillment,etc. to achieve and make possible come 2009! :)

    Aurelius Tjin’s last blog post..How To Create Your Own Vision Board

  • http://www.netage.co.za Goran Web Design

    I love these “top searches of [insert year]”… It’s amazing how much they can reveal about the state of the world through what people are looking for, what’s on everyone’s mind, etc… Very interesting.

  • http://www.greatpriceshere.com Nicole Price

    Freud would be spinning around in his grave. What a collective consciousness!

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Stylish Cookware

  • http://www.anaokulumarketi.com Anaokulu

    @Aurelius Tjin

    and mine would be “how do i get adsense rich?” like many other webmasters:)
    “How do I change my name?” is very intersting result. İ like my name:)

  • Janet Meiners

    @Anaokulu
    I bet the people asking how to change their name are women who are getting married. I know because I recently had to find out how to do that! It’s interesting that while we have the top results, we don’t have intent.
    It’s fun to see how people commenting on this post read the search terms. We have to guess what people are really looking for. A philosophical answer about the purpose of life? A name change because they don’t like their name?
    That’s where the creativity comes in…what are people thinking? Sometimes it’s easy, other times, not so much.
    -Janet

  • http://www.anaokulumarketi.com Anaokulu

    @Janet

    Thanks for your answer. I dont know that realy. I m not living USA. So i have little information about your culture.

  • http://www.tmdesigner.it SITIWEBSERVIZI GAETA

    L’articolo è molto interessante..è importante osservare come dalle statistiche di ricerca si possano comprendere i desideri e le preoccupazioni della gente..!!

  • http://www.types-of-flowers.org/ Lily Bent

    When my 10-year old daughter gives me tons of questions, after answering at least a half of them I offer her to look the rest in the answers.com. So this site helps me and my family to get information needed.