When writing and in need of a dictionary, I'll admit there are times I trust Google's search to virtually define a word or two for me. I'm sure mathematicians do the same when they can't be bothered reaching for a calculator.
But their results are much raunchier.
Typing one of a few number strings into Google's Search engine generates almost exclusively pornographic results. One of the strings, "-4^(1/4)", returned "four guys and a hooker" and a number of other too-rude-to-be-published websites.
According to the SMH, the strings include:
- "1 2" -1
- "1 2" -2
- "h 3" -h
- "1 4" -4
- "apple 1" -apple
A Quora poster brought the bug to the attention of Google engineer Jeremy Hoffman. Hoffman explained a search for "-4^(1/4)" is interpreted as "find me pages which contain a 1 next to a 4, but which do not contain a 4." According to Hoffman, this is an "impossible" query that should return zero results.
"Since these are the results that "match" the query, they are the results that get shown," Hoffman said in response to the Quora question.
It's been suggested the results are generated because of a black hat search engine optimisation technique used by porn site operators.
Google is currently working on a fix which, by the time you read this article, may already be in place, thwarting the good fun of making Google do something spontaneous.