If you're in for a few minutes of interesting, trivial research (or, if you are having a baby and want to do some statistical research on names) you should check out "Name Voyager."
This browser-based app lets you type in a name and it will tell you how popular it's been since the 1880's, whether it was popular as a boy's name, girl's name, or both, and other interesting things. For example, I found out that my name was very popular in the '60's (when I was born) and has had a recent uptick (see the graph).
Other interesting things I discovered:
- "Osama" has never been in the top 1000 names, according to this app
- "Elvis" was more popular in 2003 than any other time since the 1880's
- "Shakira" came out of nowhere in the 90's, peaked in 2003, then dropped out of the top 1000 (thanks to "Hips Don't Lie" I bet it has a big resurgence)
You can use this for some fun prediction games, too. For example:
- What impact do you think "The Simpsons" has had on the popularity of the name Bart?
- What about Justin Timberlake's effect on the name Justin?
- Why has the name Jacob been so popular in the last 5 years?
- How has the popularity of the name "Gay" changed since the 1880's?
- Has the name "Jamie" been more popular as a male name or a female name?
This doesn't answer any of the mysterious questions of the universe, but it's a fun way to spend a few minutes on the web.