This is a diversion you can do on the very popular Google search engine to kill time, or even to do scientific research (see below). It requires a web browser (GUI optional) and a little patience.

Enter www.google.com into your browser's URL text widget and go there. You will see the familiar search bar. Type in google and hit return. You will undoubtedly get many hits, as google is a very popular search engine indeed and people around the world link to it.

Now comes the game. Try adding an "o" and searching for gooogle. You should still get lots and lots of hits, because at the bottom of a hit list returned by Google, the engine adds one "o" per page of results. People have picked up on this and used it in links on their webpages, finding themselves clever for doing so.

We are more clever.

Enter goooogle (4 "o"'s). You will get lots of hits. Add another "o". Another. Another. The number of "o"'s increases roughly inversely to the number of hits. To put it another way: As the number of O's increases, the number of hits decreases more slowly over time, toward an asymptote of zero hits, which in theory it will never reach, although in practice this is not the case. The point of the game is to keep adding "o"'s, one at a time, without skipping ahead*, until you find the Google Nirvana, the point at which Google reaches out to infinity and touches the asymptote. The point of no hits. Record the number of "o"'s on a small slip of paper. Put the scrap of paper under your pillow, and you will be more in touch with the infinite. Guaranteed.

When you get near the top, you may get this amusing message from google's automatic spellchecking algorithms:

Did you mean: gooooooooooooooooooooooooogle?
Dang, I always spell that wrong.

Here's the science part: Over time, Google Nirvana moves farther and farther out as more people saturate the web with their Google bookmarks. Take a temporal cross section and examine the rate at which the Google Nirvana moves. As of this writing, Nirvana is 25. I'm going to keep watching until it hits 42. I expect some Revelations-style events to start happening right about that moment.

_______________
* It's important not to skip ahead. Someone indubitably has a web page with Google written with 627 o's. This is known as an outlier and is scorned by Nirvana-seeking monks of Google.

Be warned, this game does not work anymore. Upon typing in google with 124 "o"s, there at 58 results, and at 125 "o"s, the word is too long and google won't do the search, instead redirecting you to the search with 124 o's.

Well, it was fun while it lasted at least.

In fact, there is an easier way to achieve this kind of thing. Using google's own api or 'application program interface'. I wrote the following program to test out the number of instances of the pattern "No*":

import com.google.soap.search.GoogleSearch;
import com.google.soap.search.GoogleSearchFault;
import com.google.soap.search.GoogleSearchResult;

public class No {

        public static void main(String[] args) {
                String clientKey = args[0];
                int maxNoLength = 20;

                GoogleSearch s = new GoogleSearch();
                s.setKey(clientKey);
                String searchKey = "no";
                try {
                        for (int no = 0; no < maxNoLength; no++) {
                                searchKey += "o";
                                s.setQueryString(searchKey);
                                GoogleSearchResult r = s.doSearch();
                                int count = r.getEstimatedTotalResultsCount();
                                System.out.println(searchKey + " = " + count);
                        }

                } catch (GoogleSearchFault f) {
                        System.out.println(f);
                }
        }

}
All it does is query google, get the estimated count of the results, and increase the length of the query string by one character. It prints the results as it gets them:
.java -cp googleapi.jar:. No client-key
noo = 178000
nooo = 131000
noooo = 108000
nooooo = 59700
noooooo = 37100
nooooooo = 26200
noooooooo = 19600
nooooooooo = 15100
noooooooooo = 22700
nooooooooooo = 9690
noooooooooooo = 7600
nooooooooooooo = 7510
noooooooooooooo = 6700
nooooooooooooooo = 4260
noooooooooooooooo = 3790
nooooooooooooooooo = 3060
noooooooooooooooooo = 2810
nooooooooooooooooooo = 2570
noooooooooooooooooooo = 2180
nooooooooooooooooooooo = 1950
.

Where client-key is the key given to registered users of the api (it's free, but there are sensible restrictions on the number of queries per day). Of course, you might well argue that there is no 'sensible' number for queries of this type...


In case you were wondering, the reason for choosing "No" was the film Revenge of the Sith, specifically the part where Darth Vader shouts "NOooOOooOOooOO" to the sky. This meme was briefly propogated, and I wondered what the frequency was of the different lengths.

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