Two historic events took place Wednesday. At around 10:30 am EST, scientists landed an unmanned probe on a distant comet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the first time a spacecraft has ever landed on the surface of one.
Also Wednesday: The Internet had a collective meltdown over Kim Kardashian's butt.
Which one received more attention? If you said Kardashian, you're actually wrong: According to social media analytics service Topsy, Twitter is far more interested in a historic moment in space exploration than the bare booty of a reality star.
This may seem counterintuitive: The Internet is a place for silly distractions, not topics of serious importance. 'Soft' celebrity news, cat photos, listicles and other entertainment tend to attract more clicks and eyeballs than hard news does. After all, there's a reason BuzzFeed garners more traffic than the New York Times on a monthly basis.
And despite the fact that most readers clamor for smart reporting on serious topics, the data say otherwise "Ask readers what they want, and they'll tell you vegetables," wrote the Atlantic's Derek Thompson. "Watch them quietly, and they'll mostly eat candy."
This is relatively true on a large scale. While thousands of people are tweeting publically about this comet, most of them are actually just searching secretly for Kim's booty, according to Google Trends:
Of course, caring about comets and caring about Kardashian's butt are not mutually exclusive. We're human beings, and we're allowed to enjoy both the highbrow and the low. Still, the spike in interest captured by Topsy may give some hope that yes, the Internet cares about something other than a bare ass.
As Digiday's executive editor put it:
comet news > butt news— brian braiker (@slarkpope) November 12, 2014
We can only hope.