Hidden Meaning of Houdini Google Doodle? Hoax!
March 27 2011 Update: Google Confirms Hidden Houdini Animation Claim Is a Hoax
John Cox of Wild About Harry has received confirmation from Google: Dofskelge's claim that the Google Houdini logo contained a hidden animation was a definite hoax.
Is There a Secret Animation in the Houdini Google Doodle?
The Bennington Vale Evening Transcript reports a claim that a "Google Doodle" created to celebrate the 137th birthday of escapologist, illusionist and skeptic Harry Houdini (1874-1926) contained a hidden animation. According to "Meyrian Dofskelge, a business analyst who specializes in the electronic gaming industry," no one clued in to the magic trick, which appeared in the Google logo on March 24, 2011 -- except him.
Buy The Secret Life of Houdini, the best-selling biography by William Kalush & Larry Sloman
How Google's Houdini Trick Worked (Allegedly)
Dofskelge told the Evening Transcript he started experimenting with the logo as soon as he saw it. Clicking on it, as millions of other Google users did worldwide, simply brought up a Google search of Harry Houdini. He reasoned that Google would never let the opportunity to mimic the famous magician pass, and so Dofskelge started playing around, trying to find out whether there was more to the image.
When he solved the puzzle, an upside-down animated Houdini appeared handcuffed, then struggled and broke free of his chains, he told the Evening Transcript.
The gamer refused to reveal the exact mechanics of the supposed illusion, saying that to solve the puzzle, he had to "inspect all the elements inherent in the environment." To explain his sheepishness, Dofskelge appealed to the old adage that a good magician never reveals his tricks.
Why the Houdini Google Claim Smells Like a Hoax
It's fun to imagine Google pulling off such an illusion, but I'm skeptical about the report. Here are my reasons:
- A Google search doesn't turn up a single other reference to Meyrian Dofskelge. Legitimate names almost always produce Google results, even if they don't match exactly. The only references to Dofskelge are about this story, which broke on March 26. My guess is "Meyrian Dofskelge" is a clever anagram of a real name. Possibly someone trying to generate a bit of publicity for their own Houdini-related product.
- Why would Google go to such lengths to create a hidden illusion if it were so difficult to crack, only one very curious and technically knowledgeable person were able to find it? Two days after the Houdini Google Doodle ran, no one else has mentioned it.
- Why won't Dofskelge reveal the secret to the animation? Since the original home page containing the logo no longer exists, what is he protecting?
- Creating a hidden magic trick in a Google Doodle would be a good way to pay homage to the legacy of Houdini, as Dofskelge suggests. But so would perpetrating a hoax like this.
Bonus: Harry Houdini Facts
- Born Erik Weisz in Budapest, Hungary, on March 24, 1874
- Later claimed he was born in Appleton, Wisconsin
- Emigrated to America in 1878 with his mother and brothers
- Toured the world demonstrating his skills as an escape artist and illusionist
- Exposed "supernatural" claims, debunking psychics and spiritualist mediums
- Died on October 31, 1926, of a ruptured appendix, allegedly after being punched several times in the stomach in an attempt to prove he could withstand any blow
- 2,000 people attended his funeral
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