O, What Is Google Up to Now?

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Today Google's search page logo has a UFO sucking up one of the O's with a tractor beam. The link points to a search for the terms "unexplained phenomenon". What does it mean?

A few people on the web are postulating that it is a reference to the new movie District 9 that was released on Friday. The movie, of course is an Alien thriller.

The only other clue is is a cryptic but easily solved tweet on Google’s Twitter page. It reads “1.12.12 15 1.18.5 20.15 21.19? and is followed by a Twitpic link to the Google logo in question (right).

The numbers translate to "All your O are belong to us" when A=1, B=2, C=3, etc. This is a play on the "All your base are belong to us" Internet meme. It was a phrase started in 2000-2002 in a Zero Wing Nintendo game and spread through a flash animation which had this slogan in it. It became popular through the Something Awful message forums. A YouTube of this can be seen below.

Also the picture file is named: "Go_gle.gif". Perhaps Google is changing its name? one less 'O' for us Earthlings to type a billion times a day. Google, unsurprisingly owns the domain name Gogle.com.

Also, it could have something to do with Chrome. Perhaps Chome becoming an OS is part of the riddle? Chrome was released on September 2nd, 2008. The Chrome logo looks a lot like a spaceship from a different view.

Google has released the following statement on the matter:

"We consider the second 'o' critical to user recognition of our brand and pronunciation of our name. We are actively looking into the mysterious tweet that has appeared on the Google twitter stream and the disappearance of the 'o' on the Google homepage. We hope to have an update in the coming weeks."

Clearly, they aren't going to be helpful.

Maybe it is a birthday thing? Google was first incorporated as a privately held company on September 7, 1998.

It may also have something to do with the Exeter incident. There are no shortage of UFO sightings on September 5th (or any date for that matter).

Also, it was 43 years ago on September 8, 1966 that the original series of Star Trek aired on NBC.

At the moment, I'm still not sure, but if someone figures it out please let us all know.

Update 1: Techcrunch seems to think it might have to do with the O campaign.

A non-profit campaign forging alliances between the public, academia, corporations, and institutions in effort to efficiently channel resources for high-paced development of cutting-edge research in cancer prevention, while simultaneously spurring translation and delivery of innovative treatments to the public. The O Campaign adopts a full circle approach to cancer research and prevention via the following avenues:

(1) Raise funds from grassroots and corporate donations

(2) Channel funds directly to scientists

(3) Spur development of cancer treatments for the public

(4) Empower our full membership for learning

Why the alien abduction of the O, however? That seems a little far-fetched.

Update 2: There is now a Facebook Group dedicated to this (thanks commenter)

Update 3: Here's the most plausible explanation so far: As explained above, "All of your Base/o belong to us" is in reference to Zero Wing. This is the 20th anniversary of the game's release.

That makes some sense. Man is Google weird.

This story, "O, What Is Google Up to Now?" was originally published by Computerworld.

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