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Getty Images/AFP/Stringer

16 Google Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed

Getty Images/AFP/Stringer
Getty Images/AFP/Stringer

There are various hidden Easter Eggs, jokes, and little timewasters in almost every Google web service, product, or new device. Here are some hidden gems users have documented over the years.

1. 1998

Search for “Google In 1998” and the search results will appear in the style of a website from 1998 when the company was first founded.

2. Android's Sweet Digital Treats

Since 2008, Google’s mobile operating system has taken the name of a tasty dessert for every major release (the first was Cupcake for Android 1.5). Since the release of Gingerbread (Android 2.3), users have been able to make the sweet treats pop up on screen by going to the “About Device” section of “Settings" and tapping “Android Version."

In Gingerbread, the Android robot appeared with a zombie gingerbread man. Later Easter Eggs were more interactive: Flying ice cream sandwich bars appear when users held down the Android robot in Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Floating jellybeans emerge when users tapped the large jellybean icon for Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean).

The Android 4.4 (Kit-Kat) Easter egg features a spinning “K,” but if you hold it down, an Android logo in the style of the Kit-Kat logo appears. If you hold that logo down, then all of the past versions of Android desserts emerge.

Android 5.0 (Lollipop) is not without its own Easter eggs, either.

3., 4., and 5. Google Play Games, Voice Search, and Chromebook Pixel's Konami Code

Android Police

In the late 80s, video game developer Konami utilized a special cheat code that could be used on the company's video games. The “Konami Code” was made popular with Contra for the Nintendo Entertainment System. When players input “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start” during the game’s title sequence, they could unlock 30 extra lives to get through the game instead of the standard three.

Google has used the Konami Code on a few of its products, including Google Play Games, Google Docs, and Google’s Chromebook Pixel. Swiping the Konami Code in the Google Play Games mobile app will unlock a clever achievement that reads, “All Your Games Belong To Us.” In Google voice search, saying the Konami Code will grant you "free searches," and in Google’s Chromebook Pixel, typing in the code will make the LCD stripe on the outside of the computer blink in a frenzy of various colors.   

6. YouTube's Search Results

Searching for “Beam Me Up Scotty,” will load the video results as if they were beamed from the U.S.S. Enterprise.

The fun isn't limited to just sci-fi. When the “Harlem Shake” was a huge pop culture phenomenon, searching “Do The Harlem Shake” made the YouTube video search results do the very popular Internet meme.

7. Police Telephone Box

In Google Maps, search for “Police Telephone Box.” It will bring you Earl’s Court Station. Go to the location’s streetview and you’ll see the Doctor Who TARDIS on the sidewalk. Click the double-white arrows in front of the police box and you’ll be sent to the inside of the time machine. Once inside, you’ll be able to have a 360-degree view of its interior.

8. Google Hangouts' Gifs (and Ponies)

In May 2013, Google merged all their chat and messaging services into one convenient app called Google Hangouts. Not only did this allow Google users to chat with anyone on a mobile device or computer, it also allowed users to send people various animated GIFs and pixel streams.

Typing in “/Pitchforks” in a Google Hangouts dialogue box will launch a stream of angry townspeople racing across the screen with pitchforks. “/ShyDino” will feature a green dinosaur hiding behind a small house in your chat window, while typing “/BikeShed” will also change the background color. And they didn't forget My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic in Google Hangouts, either: Typing in “/Ponies” or “/Ponystream” will make animated ponies dash across your chat window.

9. Google Maps' Google View

Searching for the Google Street View of the Googleplex Headquarters in Mountain View, California will result in an image of Google employees with a huge banner that reads, “I Love StreetView.”

10. Google Search's Searches

Google’s primary web service and product has always been search, so it stands to reason that the largest amount of Easter Eggs can be found when you’re searching for something online.

Searching for “Do A Barrel Roll” (or “Z or R Twice”) will make your search results do a complete 360-degree spin. This is a direct reference to the video game Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 64 video game console. Doing a Google Image search for “Atari Breakout” will launch a playable version of the addictive video game using the image results. Typing in “Tilt” or “Askew” in a Google search bar will bring up the results on a slightly tilted search page.

Searching for “Anagram” will result in Google asking if you meant, “Nag A Ram.” Also searching for “Define Anagram” will result in Google asking if you mean “Nerd Fame Again.” 

11. Kevin Bacon

Google even plays “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" when you search for “Bacon Number (name of an actor).” If you search for “Bacon Number Kevin Bacon,” the answer is zero.

12. Google Play's Unicorns

Google’s online digital store is the one-stop shop for Android and Google users to buy music, movies, TV shows, mobile apps, and books. If you do a search without typing or entering text in the search bar, “Unicorns” will automatically be searched.

13. Google Glass Team Photo

Even the much-maligned Google Glass includes an Easter Egg. If you tap on the device’s touchpad nine times while viewing the license agreement in “Device Info” within “Settings,” then tap “Meet Team” and it will bring up a photo of the entire Google Glass development team, which was taken using Google Glass.

14. Happy Festivus!

When you search for “Festivus” in Google, a very long Festivus pole, as described on the TV comedy Seinfeld, appears on the left side of the screen. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and you can see the base of the Festivus pole.

15. ChromeCast's Nod to Hitchhiker's Guide


iFixit

Google’s Chromecast makes it easier to stream online videos to your home TV. Its engineers and designers included a small Easter Egg in the form of its very clever serial number. “Model H2G2-42” is a reference to Douglas Adams’ science fiction novel Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. H2G2 is the fans’ abbreviation of the long title and 42 is “the ultimate answer to life the universe and everything,” referenced in the book. 

16. One

In Google Now, use voice search to ask, “OK Google. What is the loneliest number?” Google Now will respond with the number one. It’s a reference to the Harry Nilsson song “One.”

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Disney/Marvel
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The 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix Right Now
Disney/Marvel
Disney/Marvel

If you’re in the mood for some speculative fiction and your pile of Arthur C. Clarke books has been exhausted, you could do worse than to tune in to Netflix. The streaming service is constantly acquiring new films in the sci-fi and fantasy genres that should satisfy most fans of alternative futures. Here are five of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix right now.

1. CUBE (1997)

This low-budget independent film may have helped inspire the current "escape room" attraction fad. Six strangers wake up in a strange room that leads only to other rooms—all of them equipped with increasingly sadistic ways of murdering occupants.

2. METROPOLIS (1927)

Inspiring everything from Star Wars to Lady Gaga, Fritz Lang’s silent epic about a revolt among the oppressed people who help power an upper-class city remains just as visually impressive today as it did nearly 100 years ago.

3. TROLL HUNTER (2010)

A Norwegian fairy tale with bite, Troll Hunter follows college-aged filmmakers who convince a bear trapper to take them along on his exploits. But the trapper fails to disclose one crucial detail: He hunts towering, aggressive trolls.

4. NEXT (2007)

Nic Cage stars a a magician who can see a few minutes into the future. He's looking to profit with the skill: the FBI and others are looking to exploit it.

5. THE HOST (2006)

A slow-burn monster movie from South Korea, The Host has plenty of tense scenes coupled with a message about environmental action: The river-dwelling beast who stalks a waterfront town is the product of chemical dumping.  

6. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 2 (2017)

Marvel's tale of a misfit band of space jockeys was a surprise hit in 2014. The sequel offers more Groot, more Rocket Raccoon, and the addition of Kurt Russell as a human manifestation of an entire sentient planet.

7. STARDUST (2007)

Director Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel features Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro as supporting players in the tale of a man (a pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox) in search of a fallen star to gift to his love.

8. KING KONG (2005)

Director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) set his considerable sights on a remake of the 1933 classic, with the title gorilla pestered and exploited by opportunistic humans.

9. DONNIE DARKO (2001)

What will a teenage mope do when a giant rabbit tells him the world is about to end? The answer comes in this critical and cult hit, which drew attention for its moody cinematography and an arresting performance by a then-unknown Jake Gyllenhaal.  

10. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)

Soon we'll have a movie for every single major or minor incident ever depicted in the Star Wars universe. For now, we'll have to settle for this one-off that explains how the Rebel Alliance got their hands on the plans for the Death Star.

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Library and Archives Canada, Wikimedia // Public Domain
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9 False Rumors With Real-Life Consequences
King Louis XV of France
King Louis XV of France
Library and Archives Canada, Wikimedia // Public Domain

Don’t believe everything you read—or everything you hear. Unverified but plausible-sounding rumors have been the basis for violent death and destruction throughout history, whether or not the stories had anything to do with the truth.

In their book A Colorful History of Popular Delusions, Robert Bartholomew and Peter Hassall describe rumors as “stories of perceived importance that lack substantiating evidence.” They also note that the sociologist Tamotsu Shibutani describes rumors as “improvised news,” which tends to spread when the demand for information exceeds supply. Such an information deficit most often occurs during wars and other crises, which might explain why some rumors have had such dramatic results. Here’s a selection of some of the most interesting rumors with real-life results collected in Bartholomew and Hassall’s book.

1. KING LOUIS XV WAS KIDNAPPING CHILDREN.

In 1750, children began disappearing from the streets of Paris. No one seemed to know why, and worried parents began rioting in the streets. In the midst of the panic, a rumor broke out that King Louis XV had become a leper and was kidnapping children so that he could bathe in their blood (at the time, bathing in the blood of children was thought by some to be an effective leprosy cure).

The rumor did have a tiny kernel of truth: Authorities were taking children away, but not to the king’s palace. A recently enacted series of ordinances designed to clear the streets of “undesirables” had led some policemen—who were paid per arrest—to overstep their authority and take any children they found on the streets to houses of detention. Fortunately, most were eventually reunited with their parents, and rumors of the king’s gruesome bathing rituals were put to rest.

2. LONDON WAS GOING TO BE DESTROYED BY AN EARTHQUAKE.

Two small earthquakes struck London at the beginning of 1761, leading to rumors that the city was due for “the big one” on April 5, 1761. Supposedly, a psychic had predicted the catastrophe. Much of the populace grew so panicked that they fled town for the day, with those who couldn’t afford fancier lodgings camping out in the fields. One soldier was so convinced of the impending doom that he ran through the streets shouting news of London’s imminent destruction; sadly, he ended up in an insane asylum a few months later.

3. JEWS WERE POISONING WELLS.

A deep well
iStock

Reports that Jews ritually sacrificed Christian children were not uncommon during the Middle Ages, but things took a particularly terrible turn during the spread of the Black Plague. In the 14th century, thousands of Jews were killed in response to rumors that Satan was protecting them from the plague in exchange for poisoning the wells of Christians. In 1321 in Guienne, France alone, an estimated 5000 Jews were burned alive for supposedly poisoning wells. Other communities expelled the Jews, or burned entire settlements to the ground. Brandenburg, Germany, even passed a law denouncing Jews for poisoning wells—which of course they weren't.

4. BRIGANDS WERE TERRORIZING THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE.

In July 1789, amid the widespread fear and instability on the eve of the French revolution, rumors spread that the anti-revolutionary nobility had planted brigands (robbers) to terrorize the peasants and steal their stores of food. Lights from furnaces, bonfires, and even the reflection of the setting sun were sometimes taken to be signs of brigands, with panic as the predictable result. Provincial towns and villages formed militias in response to the rumors, even though, as historian Georges Lefebvre put it, “the populace scared themselves.” In one typical incident, near Troyes on July 24, 1789, a group of brigands were supposedly spotted heading into some woods; an alarm was sounded and 3000 men gave chase. The “brigands” turned out to be a herd of cattle.

5. GERMAN-AMERICANS WERE PLOTTING SNEAK ATTACKS ON CANADA.

Officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police marching in a Canada Day parade
iStock

Canada entered World War I in 1914, three years before the United States did. During the gap period, rumors circulated that German-Americans sympathetic to their country of origin were planning surprise attacks on Canada. One of the worst offenders of such rumor-mongering, according to authors Bartholomew and Hassall, was British consul-general Sir Courtenay Bennett, then stationed in New York. In the early months of 1915, Bennett made “several sensational claims about a plan in which as many as 80,000 well-armed, highly trained Germans who had been drilling in Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York, were planning to invade Canada from northwestern New York state.” Bizarre as it may sound, there was so much anxiety and suspicion during the period that Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden requested a report on the story, which the Canadian police commissioner determined to be without any foundation whatsoever.

6. THE INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT WAS HUNTING HEADS FOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS.

In certain parts of Indonesia, locals reportedly believe—or once did—that large-scale construction projects require human heads to keep the structures from crumbling. In 1937, one island was home to a spate of rumors saying that a tjoelik (government-sanctioned headhunter) was looking for a head to place near a local jetty construction project. Locals reported strange noises and sights, houses pelted with stones, and attacks from tjoelik wielding nooses or cowboy lassos. Similar rumors surfaced in 1979 in Indonesian Borneo, when government agents were supposedly seeking a head for a new bridge project, and in 1981 in Southern Borneo, when the government headhunters supposedly needed heads to stabilize malfunctioning equipment in nearby oil fields. Terrified townspeople began curtailing their activities so as not to be in public any longer than necessary, although the rumors eventually died down.

7. POWERFUL APHRODISIAC GUM WENT ON SALE IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

An assortment of sticks of pink bubble gum
iStock

In the mid-1990s, the Middle East was home to some alarming rumors about aphrodisiacal gum. In 1996 in Mansoura, Egypt, stories began spreading that students at the town’s university had purchased gum deliberately spiked with an aphrodisiac and were having orgies as a result. One local member of parliament said the gum had been distributed by the Israeli government as part of a plot to corrupt Egyptian youth. Mosque loudspeakers began warning people to avoid the gum, which was supposedly sold under the names “Aroma” or “Splay.” Authorities closed down some shops and made arrests, but never did find any tainted gum. Similar rumors cropped up the following year in the Gaza Strip, this time featuring a strawberry gum that turned women into prostitutes—supposedly, the better to convince them to become Shin Bet informants for the Israeli military.

8. SORCERERS WERE PLAGUING INDONESIA.

In the fall of 1998, a sorcerer scare in East Java, Indonesia, resulted in the deaths of several villagers. The country was in crisis, and while protests raged in major cities, some in the rural area of Banyuwangi began agitating for restitution for past wrongs allegedly committed by sorcerers. The head of the local district ordered authorities to move the suspected sorcerers to a safe location, a process that included a check-in at the local police station. Unfortunately, villagers took the suspects’ visits to police stations as proof of their sorcery and began killing them. Anthropologists who studied the incident said the stories of supposed sorcery—making neighbors fall sick, etc.—were based entirely on rumor and gossip.

9. OBAMA WAS INJURED BY A WHITE HOUSE EXPLOSION.

These days, rumors have advanced technology to help them travel. On April 23, 2013, a fake tweet from a hacked Associated Press account claimed that explosions at the White House had injured Barack Obama. That lone tweet caused instability on world financial markets, and the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index lost $130 billion in a short period. Fortunately, it quickly recovered. (Eagle-eyed journalists were suspicious of the tweet from the beginning, since it didn’t follow AP style of referring to the president with his title and capitalizing the word breaking.)

An earlier version of this story ran in 2015.

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