Fri, May 30, 2014 - Page 18 News List

WORLD CUP: Hawking unveils winning formula


British theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking speaks to the press during the unveiling of his scientific formula for how England can win next month’s FIFA World Cup finals at a press conference in London on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s leading physicists, has hit out at “ballerina” Luis Suarez after analyzing England’s chances at next month’s World Cup finals in Brazil.

The 72-year-old professor, who wrote the best-selling A Brief History of Time, has looked at data from every World Cup finals since 1966 — the only time then-hosts England have won the tournament — and concluded that the heat and humidity in South America do not augur well for Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions.

However, he believes their prospects will improve if they have a European referee for their group match with Uruguay as northern hemisphere officials are less likely to be deceived by the Liverpool striker’s on-field theatrics.

Hawking has also devised the formula for a perfect penalty, with spot-kicks long a problem for England at major tournaments, because “as we say in science, England couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.”

Hawking, whose analysis was commissioned by bookmaker Paddy Power, said: “Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable.”

“They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world,” he said. “The World Cup is no different.”

Turning to England, who won the World Cup wearing their red kit rather than their first-choice white, Hawking said: “Statistically England’s red kit is more successful and we should play 4-3-3 rather than 4-4-2.”

“Psychologists in Germany found red makes teams feel more confident, and can lead them to being perceived as more aggressive and dominant. Likewise, 4-3-3 is more positive, so the team benefits for similar psychological reasons,” he said. “The data shows we also need to hope for a European referee. European referees are more sympathetic to the English game and less sympathetic to ballerinas like Suarez.”

“Like all animals, the England team are creatures of habit. Being closer to home reduces the negative impact of cultural differences and jetlag,” he said. “The impact of environmental factors alone is quite staggering. A 5?C rise in temperature reduces our [England’s] chances of winning by 59 percent. We are twice as likely to win when playing below 500m above sea level.”

As for penalties Hawking, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neurone disease, when he was just 21 and told he had only a few years to live, said: “Velocity is nothing without placement.”

“If only I had whispered this in Chris Waddle’s ear before he sent the ball into orbit in 1990 [Waddle was one of the England players who missed a penalty during a World Cup semi-final loss to West Germany],” he said. “The statistics confirm the obvious. Place the ball in the top left or right-hand corner for the best chance of success — 84 percent of penalties in those areas score.”

“There is no evidence that it’s advantageous to be left or right-footed, but bald players and fair-haired players are more likely to score. The reason for this is unclear. This will remain one of science’s great mysteries,” Hawking said.

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