In most cases, Google treats its search queries very seriously. It wants to give you the most relevant response to whatever you type in, and does so without comment or judgment. Now and again though, programmers like to have a bit of fun and sneak in little hidden features, jokes and messages that most people will never notice.
An ‘Easter egg’ is something inserted into an interactive work that’s somewhat hidden away and can be found either by chance or careful investigation. It’s so called because, like the chocolate eggs you might receive this weekend, you have to hunt for them, and many people enjoy the challenge of doing so.
The first known Easter egg in computing was created by Atari programmer Warren Robinett, who hid his name behind a single pixel during a level of the 1979 game ‘Adventure’. One could argue that Easter eggs existed years before the phrase was coined, with musicians like The Beatles inserting what some hear as backwards, subliminal messages in their songs.
Microsoft hid an ambitious Easter egg in Excel 97 that allowed the user to play a flight simulator game. I remember somebody discovering this in school one day, resulting in everybody in the class playing this hidden game rather than doing whatever spreadsheet-oriented task they were supposed to be working on.
What does this have to do with Google? Well, as the most visited site on the internet, it’s not surprising that the search engine has hidden a fair few Easter eggs of its own. Here are five terms you can Google if you would like a bit of a surprise:
1. Do a barrel roll
‘Do a barrel roll’ is a phrase often used in gaming as a piece of advice that achieves nothing. If you type it into Google, the search engine will take your instruction literally and send its search results for a spin. Incidentally, this achieves nothing either, but is a fun quirk.
Word nerds have always loved the internet, with sites like the Anagram Genius providing a huge archive of phrases you can make by rearranging the letters of another phrase. Google gets in on the fun too with its ‘Did you mean:’ suggestions for ‘anagram’ and ‘define anagram’.
Recursion is defined as ‘the repeated application of a recursive procedure or definition’. If you search for it on Google, you’ll find that the search engine’s ‘Did you mean:’ suggestion applies recursion itself.
Search for the word ‘askew’, and you’ll find that your results appear a little bit wonky. This used to also work for a search for ‘tilt’, but doesn’t any more, possibly due to the growth of the crowdfunding website Tilt.com.
5. Zerg rush
Perhaps the coolest and most visual Google Easter egg occurs if you search for ‘zerg rush’. A tactic used in strategy game StarCraft, searching for it will cause Google to perform a zerg rush on your results. It should be noted that this only works on a desktop search.
Maybe there are other Easter eggs out there in the world of Google that have yet to be discovered? If you would like to discover eggs hidden in software, music, films, TV programmes and more, Eeggs.com offers thousands of them.
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