Google has sparked mystery by launching an unexplained countdown that only appears when users press the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button on the search engine's homepage.

Google countdown clock

The feature, which usually takes users directly to the top result for their query, has been programmed to display a ticker when no words are entered into the search box.
As of 7.15pm GMT on Monday, the clock had reached 1,484,258.
It appears that the blue numbers are only visible to people using the search giant's English language portals such as,, and Attempting the same trick on Google's French and German websites presents an error box instead.
Google has released no statement explaining the hidden clock, but initial speculation that the search giant had advance warning of the end of the world appears wide of the mark.
Simple calculations indicate that the number will fall to zero in 17 days – around the turn of the New Year.
If confirmed, this would be the latest in a long line of pranks and hidden treats dropped into Google products by the US firm's engineers.
Past "easter eggs", as they are known, include:
• Type "recursion" into the search box and it suggests "recursion" as an alternative, sending you on a loop of clicks that all generate identical results.
• Using the arrow keys, type "up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A" while using the firm's RSS feed reader, and a little ninja appears on the left of the screen, which turns partially blue.
• The Mars feature of Google Earth 5 allows users to explore the surface of the Red Planet – and chat to the locals. Typing "Meliza" into the search box takes you to an area of the planet where you can strike up a conversation with a Martian.