UPDATE: For an update, check out my follow-up post: Google Crop Circle Doodle: A Celebration of Vector Graphics and H. G. Wells’ Birthday?
OK, so now I’m hooked. This evening, the Google logo changed into a doodle of a crop circle (above). This may seem a little innocuous, after all, Google is always jazzing up their logo with celebratory bits of art. But what did this resemble?
For starters, this isn’t the first time this has happened. A couple of weeks ago, another mini brain-teaser was posted with a flying saucer “beaming up” one of the “o”s in Google. CNET blogger Chris Matyszczyk managed to follow the clues and deduced that the missing “o” could be found in the numerical clue of one of @Google’s tweets. The numbers related to letters in the alphabet and spelled out, “All your O are belong to us.” This was in reference to the classic game Zero Wing (creator of the now famous gamer war cry “All your base are belong to us). It was the computer game’s 20th anniversary.
The logo was explained, the missing “o” was explained and it all related to an event (i.e. the Zero Wing anniversary).
So now we are presented with another conundrum. What does it mean? We have crop circles (linking to the search query “crop circles“, thanks @astrobio74 for pointing that out), a missing “l” in “Google” this time…. and a tweet from @Google with the map co-ordinates: 51.327629, -0.5616088.
Typing the longitude and latitude into Google Maps takes us to a location in Woking, Surrey, UK. The exact address is on Woodham Road in a village/town called Horsell.
Doing a search for the exact address and digging around the houses turned up precious little, until I typed in “Horsell” into Google. In the results is Horsell’s Wikipedia page. Horsell was made famous as being the place where Martians invaded in H. G. Wells’ classic sci-fi novel, War of the Worlds.
Jumping over to the War of the Worlds Wikipedia page, more information unfolds:
Much of the The War of the Worlds takes place around Woking and nearby suburbs. The initial landing site of the Martian invasion force, Horsell Common, was an open area close to Wells’ home. In the preface to the Atlantic edition of the novel, he wrote of his pleasure in riding a bicycle around the area, and imagining the destruction of cottages and houses he saw, by the Martian heat-ray or the red weed.
Great, so I’m almost 100% certain this little Google treasure hunt is pointing to War of the Worlds in some way. But why would Google pick today to do this?
A little more digging into H. G. Wells himself points to a possible answer (although I’m not totally convinced this is the sole reason). Next Monday marks the 143rd birthday of H. G. Wells (on 21 September, 1866). 143 years doesn’t strike me as a significant number, but the trail seems to lead here.
I’m now trying to work out where the “l” in “Google” fits into all this…