What the Heck Is Up With Those Google Balls?


Google's homepage illustrations marking notable holidays and anniversaries (like Magritte's birthday or the launch of the Hubble telescope) are playful divertissements that usually link to a page explaining those not readily evident.

But on Tuesday visitors to the Internet search engine were confronted with a bizarre animation of morphing, colliding balls that swept across the page wherever the cursor passed over them.

While Google usually allows users to click on the illustrations to take them to information about the subject matter (in case you didn't know who Sabiha Gokcen is), the nature of today's illustration makes that impossible — whenever a cursor passes over the illustration, it morphs and moves away, thanks to Javascript and HTML 5 programming.

Google is therefore inviting a lot of web traffic from people merely trying to find out what the illustration means — if it in fact means anything.

Five of the top seven Google search terms this morning were "google logo," "google balls," "google logo hidden message," "google homepage today," and "google dots."

Google itself isn't saying — their directory of Google Doodle art's last listing is for September 4, when they celebrated the 25th anniversary of buckyballs.

The Art of Google Doodles
Gallery of Google Doodles Artwork

Bloggers guessing about the home page art's meaning have suggested it's a demonstration of new browser capabilities, such as CSS4 scripting language.

But it could also be a birthday celebration of itself. Although the domain name google.com was registered on Sept. 15, 1997, and the company incorporated on Sept. 4, 1998, Google previously celebrated its birthday with Google art on Sept. 7, in 2003 (5 years) and 2004 (6 years).

Happy 12th Birthday, Google!

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.