- Go to Google (whichever flavour you can access – annoyingly I can only see google.co.uk)
- Search for microsoft (or just click here)
- Take a look at the ‘Results’ figure, towards the top right of the page. It should say something like ‘Results 1 – 10 of about 650,000,000’. That’s quite a few results, right? That’s pretty impressive. And all in a fraction of a second. See below.
- Now scroll to the bottom of the page, where you can page to the next set of results. Click ‘2’, to get to page 2.
- Take a look at the address generated in the address field. It should say something like ‘http://www.google.com/search?q=microsoft&hl=en&start=10&sa=N‘ (my bold added). Like below.The interesting bit here is ‘start=10’. This means it’s showing you the ten results starting at result number 10. You can edit this manually. Edit ‘start=10’ to say ‘start=30’ and it’ll show you the ten results starting at result number 30. You can jump straight to the 100th result by edit it to say ‘start=100’.
- Now, Google will only return 1,000 results. So, let’s take a look at the last ten results, in a sort of ‘End of the universe’ kind of way. So, edit this to say ‘start=990’. As below. Or, again, just click here.
What do you see in the results count? Do you still see 651,000,000?
Or do you, like me, see, um, 414? Like below?In other words, in the previous 90-odd pages of results, which, let’s face it, nobody is likely to look at, Google insists there is an astronomical number of results. But on the very last page, this comes down to something much more mundane. I only chose Microsoft because it gives a lot of results. Try it with any other term that would return many hits and you’ll find the same.
Does anyone have a clue as to what is going on here? I didn’t discover this myself, but when someone showed it me last week, my jaw dropped. I felt like the time someone showed me the flight simulator hidden in the middle of Excel.
Please, someone, tell me what’s happening here. I feel there is something deeply wrong with the universe, even more so than usual. See below.