Google has published its annual round-up of most-searched terms, revealing that the public spent much of the year procrastinating on Facebook, energized by the Large Hadron Collider and obsessing about the downfall of a bank in Iceland.

Each year the search engine giant compiles its "zeitgeist" list, uncovering the most popular keywords among billions of Google queries.

One of the fastest rising search terms of 2008 was "Large Hadron Collider'" reflecting the way in which the giant atom-smasher that promises to reveal the secrets of the universe captured the public imagination as it was switched on in September.

In the U.K., "Large Hadron Collider" outranked even "Obama," despite the American presidential election's domination of the airwaves and front pages for weeks before his election win on Nov. 4.

Globally, the president-elect was beaten by his vanquished rival for the vice-presidency, Sarah Palin. The governor of Alaska topped the worldwide list of fastest rising queries.

Obama was only sixth in the list of top climbers, just behind the late Heath Ledger, who played the Joker in the latest "Batman" movie. He died in January after taking an overdose of prescription drugs.

• Click here to read the rest of this story in the Times of London.

• Click here for Google's full Zeitgeist list for 2008.

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