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To Win, Wear Red: Physicist Hawking Advises England's World Cup Squad

After a lifetime contemplating the mysteries of the universe, famed physicist Stephen Hawking is now considering a more mundane question: How can England win the World Cup?

In a promotional video for a betting company, the scientist turns sports pundit.

"Paddy Power recognized that as a theoretical physicist, I'm marginally more qualified to make predictions than Paul the Octopus," Hawking says. (The late Paul was an octopus in Germany, treated as something of an oracle for his uncanny ability to predict the outcome of soccer matches.)

Using a technique called "General Logistic Regression," Hawking concludes that England is best positioned to win when wearing red uniforms, in matches that are at low altitudes, with a European referee.

"They are more sympathetic to the English game, and less sympathetic to ballerinas like Suarez," he says, in a jab at the Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, who plays for Liverpool in the English Premier League.

The author of A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell also turns his attention to how England can score in a penalty shootout.

Hawking concludes that while velocity is key, "velocity is nothing without placement." Lapsing into physicist jargon, he adds, "As we say in science, England couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo."

Hawking is reportedly donating his fee from the videos to the Motor Neuron Disease Association and Save The Children's Syria appeal.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.