Google Doodle Mystery Solved: Happy Birthday, H.G. Wells

Google says mysterious alien-themed images were tribute to H.G. Wells.

Sept. 21, 2009— -- The mystery of the alien-themed 'Google doodles' has finally been solved.

For the past few weeks, the search engine's usually bare home page has hosted a series of unexplained images featuring the paranormal.

First, it displayed an image of a UFO ostensibly abducting the "o" in "Google. "

Ten days later, instead of spelling out "Google" in the typical blue, red, yellow and green letters, all of the letters (except for the "l") resembled crop circles, the mysterious patterns of flattened crops that have fascinated people for years.

Today, the logo shows an all-out alien attack on an otherwise pastoral-looking landscape.

Google's Images Are Nod to Sci-Fi Author H.G. Wells

The tech giant has been known to change the so-called Google "doodle" to correspond with holidays and special events -- pumpkins on Halloween, voting booths on Election Day, shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day, etc.

But these most recent images have gone live without official commentary from the company.

Until now.

On the company's blog, Google revealed last night that the series of out-of-this-world images was intended to celebrate the contributions of H.G. Wells, author of the science fiction classic "The War of the Worlds."

"You might have noticed an unexplained set of doodles on the Google home page and a couple tweets from our official Twitter stream, @google, over the last two weeks," the company said. "We're finally acknowledging the reason for the doodles with an official nod to Herbert George, who would be 143 years old today."

Google: Wells Encouraged 'Fantastical Thinking'

When Google's crop circles surfaced last week, theories swirled online about why the company chose the image. Although some believe crop circles have extraterrestrial origins, little evidence supports the notion that they are anything other than the work of hoaxers.

Some correctly guessed it was a nod to Wells. Others thought it pointed to the anniversary of a UFO sighting.

The most significant clue to emerge came from Google itself. On its official Twitter feed, the company posted the latitude and longitude 51.327629, -0.5616088 and a link to a picture of the new home page logo.

The coordinates tweeted out by Google corresponded with the location of Surrey, England, the popular tech blog Mashable pointed out.

According to UFO tracking Web sites, a UFO was spotted on Sept. 15, 1985, by a family in Surrey.

But last night Google confirmed that it tweeted the coordinates of the U.K.'s Horsell Common, the location of the first alien landing in Wells' 1898 classic.

"Inspiration for innovation in technology and design can come from lots of places; we wanted to celebrate H.G. Wells as an author who encouraged fantastical thinking about what is possible, on this planet and beyond. And maybe have some fun while we were doing it," the company said on its blog. "The invasion of the logo by alien crafts and pods makes our series complete, but you'll have to read the book to find out how Wells' story really ends."