Sunday, June 17, 2012

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The 10 Geekiest Google Easter Eggs

The folks at Google are no strangers to science, science fiction, fantasy, or geek culture in general. Evidence of their fandom is plentiful, most commonly in the form of easter eggs and April Fools' jokes, for which the company is famous. But you do have to know where to look. Consider this your guide to the ten geekiest Google easter eggs on record.
10. Converse with a Martian
The Google Earth App is loaded with all kinds of great easter eggs, but one of the best is actually located off-planet. While in Google Earth, choose Mars from the drop down list of explorable planets and search for "MELIZA." The camera will zoom in on a little robot avatar situated beside the infamous "Face on Mars". Clicking the avatar will cause it to initiate a (somewhat unconvincing) conversation with you. (Long before there was Cleverbot, there was ELIZA, a computer program developed in the 60s to engage in conversation with human users by means of pattern matching techniques. "MELIZA" is simply a portmanteau of Mars and ELIZA.)

The 10 Geekiest Google Easter Eggs
9. Google Advises you on Your Trip to Mordor
Visit Google Maps and select "get directions." Enter "The Shire" or "Rivendell" as your start point, input "Mordor" as your destination, and make sure you request walking directions. I think you know where this is going…

The 10 Geekiest Google Easter Eggs
8. Google Counts in Binary
Searching for binary, hexadecimal or octalwill cause Google to display the number of search results in the respective numeral system. (Make sure your search is set up to hide personal results.)

7. The Moon is Made of Cheese
When Google launched its Google Moon feature back in 2005, hi-res images of the lunar surface were lacking. For many years, zooming in as far as possible would return not the typical error response ("No imagery available at this zoom level. Try zooming out…), but a hole-ridden image of Swiss cheese. Google has since gotten rid of this easter egg, but there's still lots of stuff to do on the Moon!

The 10 Geekiest Google Easter Eggs
6. Smoots
Google Earth's measurement tool will actually allow you to quantify distances in "Smoots." Don't know what (or rather who) a Smoot is? Educate yourself.

5. Google Calculator Knows
Whether it's the number of horns on a unicorn, or the answer to the ultimate question of life, the Universe, and everything, Google's native calculator app has got you covered. (Google remains tight-lipped, however, on what the "ultimate question" actually is).

The 10 Geekiest Google Easter Eggs
4. Google Flight Simulator
Having grown up playing hundreds of hours of Microsoft Flight Simulator, one of my all-time favorite easter eggs is the flight simulator in Google Earth. Just press CTRL + Alt + A ( or command + Option + A if you're on a Mac), and you can take flight from any number of airports all over the world. The program lets you choose between flying an F-16 or an SR-22 (withdownloadable cockpit add-ons), and is even compatible with a joystick, if you've got one!

3. Google Like a Swedish Chef
One of the more recent updates to Google's homepage user interface did away with the "language tools" link beside the search bar, which used to make it easy to switch the end user's Language to just about any language on Earth — from Chinese to Italian to Swedish (Chef).

The fastest way to access these end-user language changes now is to simply search for "google [language]" and select "I feel lucky." Some of the best language-based easter eggs are Swedish ChefKlingon, and 1337 sp34k.
2. Google's Cryptid
For those of you who still use iGoogle: if you set your background theme to "Beach" and wait until 3:14 am, you can watch the Loch Ness Monster rear its head out of the water. It only lasts for a minute, though, so keep an eye out. (Cryptids not your cup of tea? The 3:14 easter eggs for the "Seasonal Scape" and "City Scape" themes are Aurora Borealis and UFOs, respectively.)

1. Peg Man's Multiple Personalities
Drag and drop the Street View onto Lego Land in Carlsbad, California. He'll turn into a little Lego figurine.

You can check out many, many more Google easter eggs here.

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