The latest Easter egg from Google, which is quickly becoming a hit among the search engine’s users, starts with a simple query: just type “do a barrel roll” in the search field, and watch as your results page… does just that, quickly rotating 360 degrees (it won’t work if your browser is Internet Explorer, though). It’s quick, fun, harmless – even when doing it in the office, there are far bigger threats to employee productivity than this simple trick – and it will surely rank high among similar amusing searches, such as “number of horns on a unicorn”, “once in a blue moon” and “answer to life the universe and everything”.
Barrel roll is actually a very serious term used in aviation to describe the motion done by a plane when executing a loop at the same time with a roll – or moving on a sort of spiral trajectory. It was used for the first time in World War I, but it became famous after its extensive use in the Super Nintendo games “Star Fox” and “Star Fox 64″, where a (rather annoying) companion and tutor kept advising the player to do a barrel roll each time a fight was engaged (alternatively, it said “press Z or R twice”, which is now a synonym for doing a barrel roll). Game fans quickly adopted the phrase as a useless advice for a tricky situation (for instance, in a conversation such as “I’ve failed my chemistry class, I may not graduate, and I haven’t told my parents yet.” “Do a barrel roll!”), and this significance was coined forever when it was included in the Urban Dictionary.
Having turned into an Internet meme, the phrase “do a barrel roll” is often interpreted literally, with many sites uploading pictures of various objects tipped over (preferably very large ones, such as a boat or a truck), or videos of animals doing a barrel roll – cats, of course, the most likely creature to be caught on camera while doing some acrobatics, but also dogs, squirrels, foxes, seals and even some humans – though, as you might imagine, it’s a rather dangerous move, which you should’t try. Fortunately, you don’t have to, since now the Google search will do a barrel roll for you. It’s not the thing you’ll type over and over in the search bar just for the fun of it, but it’s amusing every now and then. I hope Google’s next Easter egg will be “bring me a cappuccino”.