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SPACE OUT

Go to Google right now and search “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away”

Kate Groetzinger
By Kate Groetzinger

Ideas fellow

Google is going all-out for the upcoming release of the latest Star Wars installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Not only can you now join the dark side (or the light side—but come on, live a little), you can also experience the vertiginous excitement of shooting through space by typing “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away” into the search engine.

Go ahead, try it. It’s much more exciting than the screen shot below.

Google has been embedding these playful little tricks, known as ”Easter eggs,” to delight users since at least 2005, when a Google Maps search for driving directions from Cambridge to London returned detailed instructions that included “Swim across the Atlantic Ocean” (3,462 mi). Now Google suggests you book a flight instead. But there are still plenty of other surprises hiding in the search engine.

True to form, Google’s starry search return is more entertaining than it is useful. Creating a functional “opening crawl,” as the virtual space travel scene is known, was a challenge even for George Lucas, who warned against using too many words in it and panning too fast. “It’s like a poem,” he once said.

Google’s opening crawl sends results for the search term flying at you too quickly to read. In the words of Star Wars concept artist Ken Ralston, “It’s fun, but pure torture.”

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