So what drives the greatest information and education resource in human history?

Sex and space. At least, those seem to be the dominant themes behind some of the greatest spikes in Web traffic. Lingerie, the Clinton sex scandal and galaxies far, far away have put up some of the biggest online numbers ever.

Over 10 days in March, more than 5 million people accessed Apple's servers to download the second "Star Wars" trailer.

On July 4, 1997, people left barbecues and bottle rockets unattended just long enough for the NASA Web site to get 32.8 million hits as the Pathfinder spacecraft landed on Mars, with photos posted live.

Broadcast.com, specializing in live online events, reported more than 1.5 million hits for the Feb. 3 Victoria's Secret fashion show. Problem: The company was prepared for only 250,000 to 500,000 visitors. The servers were hopelessly overloaded, and few got even a tiny glimpse of tiny undergarments.

The Clinton sex scandal was apparently created to crush servers. Matt Drudge broke the Lewinsky story on his Drudge Report Web site, racking up 300,000 hits per day in one week in January 1998, up from his typical 60,000 hits per day at that time.

A very precise scientific term must be used to describe what happened to the Internet on Sept. 11, 1998: All hell broke loose. The Starr report was released, and U.S. government servers, accustomed to 60,000 hits hourly, could not handle the 300,000 hits per hour generated by the report. About one in 10 attempts to get to the report were successful.

CNN reported 400,000 hits per minute that same morning, 27.7 million for the weekend (up 58 percent) and 132 million for the week ending Sept. 13, up from 92 million weekly page impressions the entire month before. More than 1.4 million users left 12 million page impressions on the ABC News Web site the day the report went up.

Salon magazine hit the big time when it published a report of Henry Hyde's sexual infidelity. Salon reported about 100,000 visitors in a single day, up from its usual 33,000.

So it's obvious that many of the same things that drive TV and movies drive the Web: namely, sex and "Star Wars" (or just about anything else that features numerous explosions). No one knows what kind of numbers Claudia Schiffer might bring wearing a chemise and lugging a machine gun through the Death Star, but we imagine it would be much higher than that other frightening possible hybrid: bikini-clad Wookies reading from an independent prosecutor's report.

New York journalist Ed Mazza is working on a screenplay tentatively titled "Battlestar: Victoria."

A Motto for Silicon Valley

Humor from Salon Magazine!

Stone Tablet | By Larry Stone

"Everyone save your work --

the server will be down

in three seconds!"