A window into our psyche reaching back hundreds of years

Here’s an excellent use of technology: Google has analysed the frequency of word use across all of the millions of books it has digitised over the past few years, and provided the means to query the results.  The “Ngram Viewer” is a great way to see how our use of language is changing and how words have drifted in and out of our collective psyche.  You can do something similar to assess the number of mentions of a word on the web of course, but that only goes back a decade or so.

What makes this so special is this: firstly, you can look back over many decades because Google has scanned a lot of classic texts; and secondly, you can click through on a time period to look at the exact references in the books Google has analysed. Suffice to say this is now my new home page…

The URL to go and play is: https://books.google.com/ngrams

If you’re interested in stuff around energy you might also want to try these queries: