Chapter 3 is a big chapter for both Tom and Edward, as they meet in person for the first time. When they switch outfits for fun and look in the mirror, they come to the realization that they look incredibly similar. Though this feels like an entirely unrealistic portion of the story, this phenomenon is not merely fictional. There are many true stories of people who have had a similar experience. Today we are exploring…
What a fascinating concept! Imagine walking through the grocery story and bumping into a person. When you make eye contact with them to apologize, you find yourself starting into your own face. Experts say the chances of something like this happening are statistically pretty low, but it’s not impossible. Keep reading or watch the video below to see how likely it is that you have a twin stranger somewhere in the world!
What is a doppelganger?
“Doppelganger” is a German word meaning “double-goer” or “double-walker”. When we use it we normally mean a person who looks almost exactly like you (or at least very similar) but is not related.
Teaghan Lucas, an anthropologist at the University of New South Wales, published a study in 2015 in the International Journal of Legal Medicine. As a part of this study, she examined photographs of thousands of photographs and compared eight facial features and eight body measurements between people. Some of the facial features she examined were ear length, head circumference, and the distance between the centers of the right and left pupils.
The findings from the study were that the chances of getting an exact match in those eight facial features was one in a trillion. That number simplifies to there being about a one in 135 chance that there’s a single pair of doppelgangers with shared facial traits in the world. When examining body measurements, those chances become even more slim. The odds of an exact match in the eight body measurements was one in a quintillion. That’s a one with fifteen zeros (1,000,000,000,000,000)!
One of the conclusions that can come from this data is that body measurements are much more unique than facial features. Logically, this makes sense. There are so many other possibilies for how your body can be shaped compared to your face. It is also important to note that this study used facial recognition software to measure EXACT matches in features. To the human eye, many people’s facial features would probably look the same even if a facial recognition software would not necessarily identify them as identical.
- Francois Brunelle
- Started a project “I’m not a look-alike”
- Photographed over 200 pairs of doubles
- Says sometimes doubles can’t recognize the resemblance that everyone else can
- He thinks people bond instantly with their doubles
- Nick Fieller
- Statistician involved in “The Computer-Aided Facial Recognition Project”
- Says small number of genes determine face shape, so doubles are inevitable, especially with an “average” face
- Says most people probably have a facial look-alike unless they have a truly unique face
- Daniele Podini
- Forensic molecular biologist at George Washington University
- Says environment is very important
- Says identical twins raised in different areas with different living conditions could change the way they look
‘Twin Stranger’ Project
Three friends in Ireland (Niamh Geaney, Terence Mazanga, and Harry English) set out on a challenge: they wanted to find their doppelgangers. The original challenge was for the friends to compete to see who could find their twin stranger in 28 days. They put out their pictures and requests on social media for people to help them meet their goal.
One of the friends, Niamh, actually ended up finding three different doppelgangers! And the resemblances are crazy! Years later the project is still going on https://twinstrangers.net/. You can upload your own picture to try and find your own doppelganger.
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- If your are a teacher and are looking for a related passage that is available at multiple reading levels for your students, this resource can be found on Newsela, a site that allows you to select the Lexile level at which you would like to see the article: https://newsela.com/read/chances-of-having-doppelganger/id/51344/?search_id=a65f60a6-d5fd-47c4-8d0a-ad84b181f89e