The Big List Of Google Easter Eggs

The Big List Of Google Easter Eggs

Mar 30, 2013 at 6:07pm ET by 

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google-easter-egg-240Google is well-known for its lighter side, including things like whimsical logosapril fools’ gags and more. In the spirit of the Easter holiday, here’s a big list of “easter eggs” that Google engineers have hidden for enterprising searchers who take the time to hunt them down.

Easter eggs? “A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, in-joke, or feature in a work such as a computer program, web page, video game, movie, book, or crossword,” according to Wikipedia.

A classic Google example: An animated, rotating graph of a 3D easter egg (click the link to see the animation).

It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a classic “easter egg,” something hidden in the works that you have to hunt for to reveal, and special features Google turns on to celebrate a particular occasion or notable event. Many people refer to the latter as easter eggs, even though they’re generally transitory and impossible to find once Google has turned them off.

Some of these “transient” easter eggs have been turned on to coincide with holiday celebrations, such as searching for a phrase with “xmas” or “christmas” which triggered a string of colorful lights under the search bar. Similarly, during roughly the same time period searching for “hanukkah” included a row of lights shaped like the Star of David, and searching for “kwanzaa” included a row of Kinara candles.

While these are fun, I don’t consider them to be “true” easter eggs, so the focus of this post will be on “permanent” easter eggs that you can search for and find yourself any time. Most of the Google easter eggs are clever and funny;some require specialized knowledge, as you’ll see in many of the examples below.

Note: Some of the Google easter eggs mentioned in this post, like the rotating egg example above, require the latest version of a browser. All work in Google Chrome; some don’t work in Firefox or other browsers.

Google Search Easter Eggs

Search for “Tilt” or “Askew

Sometimes, Google alters search results to display a literal interpretation of your query. Search for “askew” or “tilt” and sure enough, your results will be displayed slightly akimbo. No SEO manipulation here – they still function as “normal” search results, but they just look crooked.

Search For “Recursion

According to Wikipedia, “recursion …is the process of repeating items in a self-similar way. The most common application of recursion is in mathematics and computer science, in which it refers to a method of defining functions in which the function being defined is applied within its own definition. As a logical next step, Google asks, “Did you mean: recursion.”

Search For “the answer to life the universe and everything

In his classic book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams wrote “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” For years, people have been trying to decipher the “hidden” meaning behind the number 42, but Adams himself late in life said “The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base 13, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat on my desk, stared in to the garden and thought 42 will do. I typed it out. End of story.” Nonsense or not, Google’s calculator returns the number 42 in response to this query.

Search For “do a barrel roll

A barrel roll is an airplane maneuver where the pilot executes a complete 360 degree roll while continuing to fly forward at a consistent altitude—as if the landing gear of the plane were rotating around the inside of a barrel. Google took a bit of poetic license with this definition, “spinning” the result page through a 360 degree loop.

Search For “zerg rush

A “zerg rush” is a tactic originated in the video game Starcraft that involves swarming a low-level or poorly equipped group against an opposing group in the hope that sheer numbers will overwhelm the enemy. Search for zerg rush and you’ll trigger a simplified example of a zerg rush using a swarm of “O’s”, ending up with the traditional “GG” (meaning “good game”). Tip: Clicking an “O” three times kills it—but that may not help, as another swarm has been wiping out search results starting with the bottom of the page.

Search For “conway’s game of life

British mathematician John Horton Conway devised one of the first computer simulations of “life,” allowing observation of various stages of “evolution” of cells as they interact with one another over time. Conway’s “game” is quite simple – as a “player” you simply create an initial configuration of cells, turn it on, and watch it evolve, with no further interaction. The simulation has been widely used in many areas of computer science research.

Search For “anagram

Anagrams are a form of word play, requiring both creativity and a strict adherence to the “rules.” An anagram is the rearrangement of a word or phrase into a different word or phrase, using exactly the same letters but in a different order or sequence. The cleverest anagrams often result in puns or clever innuendo, such as “Clint Eastwood” (an anagram of “old west action”) or for fans of the long-running TV show Doctor Who, a reference to another show in that fictitious universe, an acronym of “Doctor Who” itself, “torchwood.”

Search For “define anagram

Google will present you with a dictionary definition of any word if you preface your query with the word “define.” A definition provides information about the word type, its phonetic pronunciation and often a link to hear how the word is pronounced. In the case of “define anagram” it also offers a clever “Did you mean” alternative.

Search For “bacon number [actor name]

There’s a theory called “six degrees of separation” that postulates that every person or thing is six or fewer steps away thanks to our connections. A game called “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” has a goal of linking every actor to Kevin Bacon through no more than six steps. Google lets you discover an actor’s degree of separation from Kevin Bacon by simply searching for “bacon number” followed by the actor’s name.

Google Calculator Easter Eggs

Google’s calculator could technically be thought of as an extension of the search engine—to use it you simply enter equations or expressions directly into the search box and your result appears at the top of search results. Here are some of the more amusing calculator easter eggs:

Search For “binary

Enter a search for “binary” and the number of results found is displayed as a binary number, rather than the traditional decimal count. Try the search with other number systems such as “hexadecimal” and “octal” and you’ll see similar results.

Search For “once in a blue moon

Google also offers helpful results for common number-related cliches. Search for “once in a blue moon” and you’ll get “1.16699016 × 10-8 hertz” as an answer. Why? Convert the result from seconds (one hertz is one cycle per second) into years, and you’ll get about 2.7 years—the approximate amount of time between each “blue moon.” Why again? the phrase “blue moon” has nothing to do with the color of the moon. Rather, it refers to a month when there are two full moons, which due to the variation of the lunar cycle and our calendar works out to about one blue moon (a second full moon in a single month) every three years.

You can also have some fun with the Google calculator with numeric phrases like “a bakers dozen“, “the loneliest number” and “the number of horns on a unicorn.”

If you’re a real math geek, you can create elaborate equations that Google will compute and then graph as a recognizable shape, such as the easter egg above.

Here’s another one, graphed from the following equation:

sqrt(cos(x))*cos(300x)+sqrt(abs(x))-0.7)*(4-x*x)^0.01, sqrt(6-x^2), -sqrt(6-x^2) from -4.5 to 4.5

An easter egg that’s probably more appropriate for Valentine’s day.

A Couple Of Fun Google Maps Easter Eggs

Just as with search results, Google strives for quality and accuracy in maps search results. Nonetheless, enterprising programmers have snuck some easter eggs into some map search results, and they’re typically harmless, but funny. You also typically have to work harder to surface them. So rather than providing links, I’ll give you screen shots and directions to replicate the results yourself. Start, of course, by navigating to Google Maps.

Walking Directions: The Shire To Mordor

  1. On the Google Maps home page, click get directions
  2. A: “The Shire” B: “Mordor”
  3. Click the blue “GET DIRECTIONS” button
  4. Click the “walking” icon

Walking Directions: China To Japan

  1. On the Google Maps home page, click get directions
  2. A: “China” B: “Japan”
  3. Click the blue “GET DIRECTIONS” button
  4. Click the “walking” icon

Notice for step 300: Jet ski across the Pacific Ocean.

Third-Party Google Easter Eggs

Google’s not the only one creating Googly easter eggs. Here’s a sample of some ester eggs created at Google’s “expense” by others on the web:

  • Google gravity collapses the Google home page as if it were caught in a black hole.
  • Google space. The Google home page meets Angry Birds.
  • Google sphere. What it says.
  • Where’s Chuck Norris?. Heh. “Google won’t search for Chuck Norris because it knows you don’t find Chuck Norris, he finds you.”
  • Epic Google. When Google get’s too big for its own good?

Did we miss any? Please add your Google easter eggs to the basket in the comments section below.

(Stock image via Used under license.)

Related Topics: Featured | Google: Easter Eggs | Top News

About The Author:  (@CJSherman) is a Founding Editor of and President of Searchwise LLC, a Boulder Colorado based Web consulting firm. He also programs and co-chairs the Search Marketing Expo – SMX conference series

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