Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Popular Posts

"You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won't believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!" ~ Richard Feynman

I have always found that quote amusing. Feynman's child-like amusement at seeing a random license plate is entertaining. Most of us would look at that and think, "So what?". However, this post is not really about Feyman's quote. I actually was looking at the views of each post on my blog over its lifetime, and the top four posts are not ones I would have expected. To echo Feyman, out of all the posts (not millions, of course) on my blog, what are the chances that these posts would be the top ones? They would not be the ones I would have predicted:
  1. At more than four times the popularity of the fifth highest viewed post, "The Drama of Persecution" comes in first. This post I wrote about the early Christian persecutions: persecutions that showed the world that God’s plans are like the foundations of the earth—they will outlast any nation or people.
  2. Coming in at just under four times the popularity of the fifth highest viewed post, "Mote of Dust in a Sunbeam" comes in second. This one is definitely a surprise to me. I wrote it two years ago in just a few minutes to give my readers a little perspective on the size of our universe. I considered it a very minor post. Somehow it has continued to be one of the top posts. 
  3. Placing third all-time, "Galileo's Trial: An Epic Struggle of Science Against Religion?" comes in just a few pageviews under second place. This post I wrote to show the historical research that has been done on Galileo's trials, and attempt to counter the erroneous view that these trials were all about the big, bad, monolithic Roman Catholic Church persecuting the poor, innocent scientist because of their ignorance. It has been upheld as an icon of science vs. religion but the historical facts simply do not support that caricature. 
  4. Finally, coming in fourth with more than three times the pageviews of the fifth place post, "Redefining the Chemistry of Life?". This post is one my science commentaries on a discovery that makes it into the popular media (a media that more-often-than-not misrepresents the discovery), which I do from time-to-time. The discovery was a strain of bacteria, GFAJ-1, that appears to be able to able to incorporate arsenates (a toxic molecule) into its biochemistry instead of phosphates. The discovery was heralded as "redefining the chemistry of life", but after reading the journal article on the subject and looking at some peer criticism, I came to a different conclusion.
As Feynman said, "Can you imagine?" well I would not have, but there you have it—the top four posts. They are not just the top four by a small margin but number four is still three times more popular than number five. Not at all what I would have expected.

By His Grace,

No comments: