Google captures 2012 zeitgeist

Tragedy, technology and trivia have drawn the most curiosity from the world's online population this year, according to global search engine Google.

Whitney Houston, the pop singer who died after a battle with drug addiction, topped the world's search term rankings, with K-pop phenomenon Gangnam Style, Hurricane Sandy and Apple's iPad 3 also high on the list.

And among the 1.2 trillion queries made in more than 140 languages, the "how-to" searches are also revealing.

Singaporeans want to know how to rock, how to DJ and how to rap - while Nigerians want to know how to love, how to do better at romance - and also how to rap.

And when it comes to exercise, those in US are keen to find out how to improve their abs, build shoulder mass and bulk up their chests.

"I was surprised that the tenth most popular search in the world this year was 'Big Brother Brazil'," Ben Parr, a columnist for the technology site CNET, told Al Jazeera. "For the US, it was 'American Idol' and 'The Voice' which dominated in terms of TV shows."

The popularity of certain search terms indicates the popularity of cultural trends - from TV to technology.

"Some things weren't on the list," said Parr. "The iPad was on the list... but no iPhones, which also surprised me. It's a world of tablets now."

It has been a changing year for Google as well, with the company grappling with European anti-trust plans, Chinese censorship bids and cyber-security alerts around its global email service.

This week, the California-based multinational - one of the world's largest tech sector companies - has partnered with Israeli officials to launch an online library of more than 5,000 images of ancient biblical artifacts The Dead Sea Scrolls.