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Stephen Hawking's Mathematical Guide To Winning The World Cup

Stephen Hawking, for whatever reason, spent some time digging up soccer stats for Paddy Power that could help nudge the English side to a World Cup win. It's fascinating, mostly for the premise of Stephen Hawking being mixed up with Paddy Power.

Elder of contemporary physics going in with a site that took prop bets on whether or not President Barack Obama would "finish his first term" aside (assassination odds were a lowballed 16-1, if you were wondering), Hawking didn't make a broad-reaching model, or make projections for the tournament at large. He did have a few interesting takeaways, though.

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  • England fares much better with European referees (68 percent win rate) than it does with refs from anywhere else (38 percent).
  • A rise in temperature of five degrees Celsius decreases English odds of winning 59 percent.
  • The English also play much, much worse above 500m above sea level, and after 3 p.m. local time, though how they adapt by hemisphere is unmentioned.

The penalty data is actually pretty neat:

Let's start with the technique. Velocity is key. For this reason, get a run up of more than three steps. Give it some welly. There is only a 58% probability of scoring if your run up is three steps or less. Considerably less than the normal 87% probability of scoring otherwise.

However, 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. Use the side foot rather than laces and you are 10% more likely to score.

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You can check out the rest over at Paddy Power.

[Paddy Power]

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