At the end of every year, I gather statistics on the most viewed Wikipedia articles of the year. This helps me, a computational social scientist, understand what topics captured the most attention and gives me a chance to reflect on the major public events of the year. I try to use data to determine how the public (and more specifically here, English-language Wikipedia readers) will collectively remember the past year.
Physicists have long struggled to explain why the universe started out with conditions suitable for life to evolve. Why do the physical laws and constants take the very specific values that allow stars, planets and ultimately life to develop? The expansive force of the universe, dark energy, for example, is much weaker than theory suggests it should be – allowing matter to clump together rather than being ripped apart.
The business magnate and new owner of Twitter Elon Musk revealed a while ago that he is autistic. Musk, the wealthiest person in the world, is autistic. Musk, a fellow of the prestigious Royal Society and Time’s 2021 Person of the Year, is autistic. One of the most famous people on Earth is autistic. Perhaps it is worth letting that sink in?
The world’s population is expected to hit 8 billion people on November 15, according to the UN. Already this has prompted worry about whether there will be enough food, water and energy to support our growing population. While human activity is undoubtedly driving the climate crisis, population growth is a red herring.