Stephen Hawking turns his mind to football
Stephen Hawking has turned his brilliant mind toward perhaps his toughest challenge yet - helping England win the football World Cup.
Britain's most famous scientist, known for his theories on physics and the universe, has been commissioned by a betting company to analyse data from every World Cup England has qualified for since winning the tournament in 1966 in the hopes of coming up with a winning formula.
His conclusion: Roy Hodgson's team had the best chance of winning in Brazil if it avoided high temperatures, adopted an aggressive 4-3-3 formation and wore red.
However, Hawking was not betting on England lifting the trophy. The scientist was backing the host to win the tournament, saying ''you would be a fool to overlook Brazil. Hosts have won over 30 per cent of the World Cups''.
The physicist used his science to produce two formulas. The first one, taking into account a host of variables, described the probability of England winning a match while the other addressed the country's penalty chances.
''Ever since the dawn of civilisation, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable,'' Hawking told a press conference in London.
''They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. The World Cup is no different.''
Speaking through a voice synthesizer from his wheelchair, Hawking, who was almost completely paralysed by motor neuron disease, said England should use its red kit in Brazil to boost its chances and play in a 4-3-3 rather than in a 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,'' he said.
''Likewise, 4-3-3 is more positive so the team benefits for similar psychological reasons.''
Hawking also came to the conclusion that environmental and psychological factors could play a major role on England's fate, pointing out that a increase in temperature of 5 degrees Celsius would reduce England's chances of winning by 59 per cent while the team was twice as likely to win when playing at altitudes below 500 metres.
''And our chances of winning improve by a third when kicking off at three o'clock local time,'' Hawking said.
Turning to penalties, he said the key to success was velocity and that players needed at least a three-step run to the ball.
But he added: ''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 per cent more likely to score.''
Hawking, who was known for his sense of humour, then said he found it more difficult to make sense of football than explain the mysteries of the universe.
''It is hugely complicated,'' he said.
''In fact, compared to football I think quantum physics is relatively straightforward.''