Oxford-born theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has taken England's 48-year World Cup drought as hard as anyone, but being that he's one of history's greatest minds, he's decided to do something about it. Hawking has teamed up with Paddy Power, a string of betting shops found throughout the UK, to put together a formula that will bring England back to World Cup glory in Brazil.
His formula, reached by using a technique called “General Logistics Regression Modeling” (not that we have to tell you that), addresses two points. First, the ideal conditions for England to win matches, and second, how the country can score in a penalty shootout; a wrinkle that has been a monkey on the Brit's back for some time.
For the ideal conditions, the data shows that England perform their best when in their red kit, playing in a 4-3-3 formation (rather than the 4-4-2 they've been known to play), with a European referee, who Hawking claims are less apt to award fouls to “ballerinas like Suarez.” England also flourishes in temperate climates close to sea level, with kickoffs as close to 3 PM as possible. Unfortunately for them, they'll have to play Italy later in the night, in likely significant heat.
The most ambitious effort on Hawking's part was trying to find a solution to England's historical penalty shootout problem. As he delicately put it, “England couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo.” The numbers show that side-footing the ball, after a 3+ step run-up, into the upper corners of the net, is the most statistically favorable way to score. Ages and dominant foot don't play a significant role in whether a player is more likely to score, but bald and fair-haired players have an advantage, something that Hawking describes as “one of science's great mysteries.” You know, right along with black holes.
The full report can be found here, and of course, we easily understood every single word and graph.
If this doesn't get Hawking a Nobel Prize, nothing will.
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