You only have to pick up an old novel to realize that people write very differently than they did 100 years ago, or even a couple generations ago. But is it possible to quantify those differences? Could pick apart centuries' worth of literature, and track their age based only on the words on the page?
What exactly is the half-life of celebrity? A new field called culturomics has the answer. Using the largest linguistic database ever created - Google Books - culturomics experts track things like "lexical dark matter," and how long fame really lasts.