Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
While technology is cold and rigid, it’s still made by humans. And where there’s a human, there’s a sense of humor. Often, engineers will slip a fun secret into the code of their product—an Easter Egg, it’s called.
We have seen some fun and surprising Easter Eggs in operating systems, but the king of these secrets is everyone’s favourite search engine, Google. Over the years, Google’s engineers have built a great number of these hidden treasures into its many services. Here are ten of the coolest ones that you might have missed somehow…
The Anagram Of…
Google for the word “anagram” and what’s the first thing to pop up? “Did you mean: nag a ram.” It’s Google’s little way of having fun with the meaning of anagram, which is to jumble letters to form words. In fact, it takes an even funnier turn when you try to look up the meaning of anagram with the query “Define: anagram”—did you mean “nerd fame again”?
Another one to have fun with the “Did you mean” suggestion is the word recursion. Recursion, of course, is the process of repeating items in a self-similar way. So, when you Google “recursion”, you know what to expect…
Tilt/Askew Your Google
Here’s a fun one, especially if you want to prank a non-techie into thinking something is wrong with their computer. Type “tilt” or “askew” in Google Search and the results page will appear tilted by a few degrees.
The Bacon Number
The Bacon Number is a long-standing Hollywood gag. It stems from the “six degrees of separation” theory that any two people in the world are six or fewer links apart. For celebrities, there’s a “Bacon Number” to suggest that any celebrity is six or fewer links apart from Kevin Bacon, presumably because he has acted in many movies with different casts. Well, Google’s movie nerds threw in a Bacon Number calculator into the search now. So all you have to do is type “Bacon Number” followed by an actor or celebrity’s name and Google will tell you their Bacon Number as well as how they are connected to Kevin Bacon.
What’s The Loneliest Number
It’s easy to learn to use Google Calculator, but there are a few tricks in it you probably didn’t know about. We’ve talked about how searching for “the answer to life, the universe and everything” delivers the number 42 as a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and the phrase “once in a blue moon” will give you an equation for that event, among other hidden Google treasures. But one of my favorite tricks is to search for “the loneliest number” and Google Calculator comes back to you with the number 1. Harry Nilson fans, this one’s for you.
Play Atari Breakout In Your Browser
Go to Google Image Search and search for Atari Breakout, the classic arcade game. You’ll see the thumbnailed results pop up as usual. But wait for a few seconds and boom! You are now playing Breakout in your browser, with the thumbnails acting as bricks. It’s our favorite video game-related Easter Egg from Google, although Zerg Rush comes a close second.
YouTube Does The Harlem Shake
Last year, the Harlem Shake went viral. Naturally, people were uploading most of their homemade videos to YouTube. Well, YouTube decided to get in on the act too and made its own version. In YouTube’s search box, type “do the Harlem Shake” and wait for the magic to happen.
Do You Speak Klingon? Google Does
Head to Google’s Language settings in Preferences and check out the many options available to you there. You can ask Google to speak Pirate and get “Engravin’s” instead of Images or switch to Klingon and hit “latlh” to find out more. There are plenty of other fun languages like Hacker, so browse around.
Google in 1998
Google was founded back in 1998 and it obviously looked much different from what it does now. Want to see what it was like? Just search for “Google in 1998” and the search result page will look like what it did back then.
Step Into TARDIS
Doctor Who fans, rejoice! Not only is TARDIS real, you can even step into it if you use the Street View Mode in Google Maps. It’s a little police telephone box at Earl’s Court in London, which you can check out here. And if you want to travel back in time, hit this link to step inside.
Other Easter Eggs
Google isn’t the only tech product to have some great Easter Eggs, and you can unwrap some of these amazingly geeky secrets too.
Have you discovered an Easter Egg of your own that you want to share? The comments space is the right place to do it!