From superheroes to the battle of the battles

Yesterday, Germany won their fourth world championship, and, over the course of the last month, the world watched them do it—in Brazil, in bars and living rooms around the world, on their phones and laptops and tablets. This World Cup was the most digital, most connected, and most searched global event we’ve seen to date. There were more than 2.1 billion tournament-related searches on Google, many of which we shared on our trends hub

Looking at the trends from each match, you’ll see some topics that you’d expect to catch the world’s attention, such as top players and highly-anticipated matches. But who would have guessed that there were 10x more searches in the U.S. for the World Cup than for the NBA Playoffs? Or that Clint Dempsey, American soccer star who also has a rap single, had 2x more search interest than Jay-Z? Or that after Ángel di María’s divine goal against Switzerland, he netted 4x more global searches than his fellow countryman, Pope Francis?

America’s businesses are using the web to grow

Over the past few months, we’ve had the chance to talk to businesses all over the country and hear stories of how they’ve become successful. For many, it’s pretty simple: the Internet. The web is helping businesses and communities across the U.S. to grow and succeed. In fact, last year Google’s search and advertising tools helped provide $111 billion of economic activity for more than 1.5 million businesses—advertisers, publishers and nonprofits—across the U.S.

Take Go2marine, a boat supply company located on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Washington State. Because of their remote location, bringing traffic to their website using Google AdWords plays an important role in their ability to sell their 250,000+ boat supplies to customers in 176 countries. When it’s winter in the U.S., they rely on customers located in other parts of the world where it’s boating season, with the web bringing them business from any place, in any season.

The sports stars are out tonight

Athletes put on their best three-piece suits and gowns for the ESPYs on Wednesday, and people turned to search to see which of their favorite stars took home the honors. (FYI OKC Thunder star Russell Westbrook, as usual, won the red carpet battle for fashion supremacy, hands down.) While Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe couldn’t make it to the awards show, he still managed to make a splash on the trends charts when he came out as gay. Back on the field, it was the end of an era in baseball as New York Yankees legend Derek (er, Michael?) Jeter played in his last all-star game. 

Seeing double
It was a tale of two Brookses this week as searchers were surprised to find out Brooks Wheelan got the boot from Saturday Night Live after just one season—tough crowd. Garth Brooks, on the other hand, had a great week when he announced his upcoming fall tour to much fanfare (“searchfare”?). In the reality TV scene, Claire Leeson from England spent more than $30,000 (so, basically a Tesla Model 3) to look like her celebrity idol Kim Kardashian. And another Kardashian lookalike made it to the trends charts when Lilit Avagyan married Kim’s ex-boyfriend Reggie Bush—six degrees of Kim Kardashian anyone? 

Little Box Challenge

These days, if you’re an engineer, inventor or just a tinkerer with a garage, you don’t have to look far for a juicy opportunity: there are cash prize challenges dedicated to landing on the moonbuilding a self-driving carcleaning the oceans, or inventing an extra-clever robot. Today, together with the IEEE, we’re adding one more: shrinking a big box into a little box. 

Seriously.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. Especially when the big box is a power inverter, a picnic cooler-sizeddevice used to convert the energy that comes from solar, electric vehicles & wind (DC power) into something you can use in your home (AC power). We want to shrink it down to the size of a small laptop, roughly 1/10th of its current size. Put a little more technically, we’re looking for someone to build a kW-scale inverter with a power density greater than 50W per cubic inch. Do it best and we’ll give you a million bucks.

Fifteen ways to change the world

Kenneth Shinozuka, from New York City, wants to help people with Alzheimer’s Disease, like his grandfather. Kenneth developed a small, wearable sensor to be worn on his grandfather’s foot. When pressure is applied to the sensor, it alerts his family via a mobile app, which allows them to monitor when his grandfather is on the move. By monitoring this behavior, Kenneth hopes to understand the causes of wandering brought on by Alzheimer’s, and to ultimately find a way to mitigate or prevent it. 

Samuel Burrow, from the U.K., wants to improve the environment by reducing pollution. Taking inspiration from the chemical used in sunscreen, Samuel created a special coating that reduces waste chemicals in the air when subjected to ambient light. And Cynthia Sin Nga Lam, from Australia, thinks everyone deserves access to clean water and created an eco-friendly and economical device to do just that. 

These are just a few examples of the 15 incredible projects we’ve named as the global finalists for 2014 Google Science Fair. This is our fourth time hosting the competition as a way to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers. From Russia to Australia, India to Canada, this year’s finalists (ages 13-18) are already well on their way to greatness. See all 15 projects on the Google Science Fair website.

Through the Google lens

Would you turn down a free trip to Hawaii? Julio and Iselle aren’t. The two hurricanes are barreling towards the islands, bringing 90 mph winds, flash floods and hordes of searches with them. If Iselle makes landfall, she’ll be the first hurricane to hit the Big Island since 1950. Julio, like the tag-a-long younger brother, is right on Iselle’s tail. You can review tips on how to stay safe during hurricane season here.

A Hawaiian hurricane isn’t the only trouble brewing in the air. Searchers had a virtual panic attack when Facebookwent down for a couple hours last Friday. In a state of shock, some people even called the police to assist with their social media emergency. Meanwhile, a toxin called microcystin is contaminating the waters in parts of Ohio, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to stockpile bottled water and look for answers on the Internet. 

But there’s only one thing that can distract us from the craziness of real life… and that’s the sheer absurdity of reality TV. Viewers and searchers tuned in to watch the premiere of the Bachelor in Paradise, an elimination-style show where contestants compete for love. This is probably not what Cervantes meant when he wrote that all’s fair in love and war.