Where’s Wally? How to use a tape measure and basic maths to find Wally in seconds

Where’s Wally? How to use a tape measure and basic maths to find Wally in seconds


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After first appearing on bookshelves in 1987, Where’s Wally? quickly became a family favourite and global sensation as millions desperately attempted to find him. The character’s bold stripes and milk bottle spectacles have made him notoriously tricky to pin down in the book’s colourful pages – though this hack may make this easier.

Despite his signature look, Wally appears under an array of different aliases all over the world.

Honchō discovered that adults and children around the world may refer to our beloved Wally as “Volli”, “Willie” or even “Charlie”.

The name Wally exists in some parts of Europe, but when you cross the channel to France, Wally’s identity is immediately thrown into question as he is better known as Charlie.

In Croatia you will find Jura and in India Wally is Hetti, but over in Italy he is referred to as Ubaldo and in Lithuania he becomes Jonas.

But, whether you are searching for Wally in the UK or half way around the world, Slate’s fool proof strategy to find the missing man offers a much more efficient solution than scouring the pages for him – using just a tape measure and basic maths.

Slate comments that true randomness is hard to achieve and, according to illustrator and creator of Where’s Wally?, Martin Handford, unpredictability is not something that he necessarily aimed for.

He once told Scholastic: “As I work my way through a picture, I add Wally when I come to what I feel is a good place to hide him.”

By mapping out Mr Handford’s patterns, Slate sought the mathematical reasoning behind finding Wally by taking to the seven primary books with a tape measure in hand.

They discovered that 53 percent of the time, Wally can be found inside one of two 1.5 inch tall sections, one beginning three inches from the bottom of the page and another one starting seven inches from the bottom of the page, stretching across the spread.

A good strategy to begin the hunt with is to start scanning these aforementioned sections as a first port of call, as even though 1.5 inches is not a small section to scope out, it breaks down the page and is small enough to focus on.

Slate put its theorem to the test by pitting two colleagues against each other, with one utilising the traditional scanning the page method and one using the findings and a tape measure.

The colleague equipped with the knowledge of the hack and a tape measure came out on top, locating Wally the quickest each and every time.

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The probability of any two 1.5 inch bands containing at least 50 percent of Wally’s appearances is remarkably slim, less than 0.3 percent in fact.

Generally, Mr Hanford does not put Wally near the top or bottom of a page, something which leaves Slate to theorise that the placement of Wally is mainly a function comprised of two factors: aversion from extremes and aversion from the middle.

This may make it harder to find Wally for those of us whose eyes naturally stray to the edges and the middle as a starting point, but once you know there is a slim chance of finding him there, it breaks down the page and makes him much easier to uncover.

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