Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Paul the Prognosticating Octopus Oracle has disappointed his German fans by choosing Spain over Germany in tomorrow’s World Cup Football match. Paul is a two-year-old English-born octopus of unknown species who has lived in the aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany since shortly after he was born.

Image: Mark Keppler / DAPD

This is a bummer for all those German fans who believe in tooth fairies and Santa Claus, because Paul the Prognosticating Octopus Oracle of Unknown Species (PPOOUS) has made another prediction for the outcome of tomorrow’s World Cup football match of Germany versus Spain — he chose SPAIN to win. (teh H0rr0rz!)

How does Paul tell mere humans the winner of these divine matches? His keepers place a mussel — his favorite snack item — into two small glass tanks marked with either the German flag or the national flag of their upcoming opponents and these tanks are lowered into his aquarium. Paul informs observers of his choice by removing the mussel from the tank of the team he is predicting will win the match.

Paul is a two-year-old British-born cephalopod of an unknown species who has resided in the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium in Germany for nearly all of his life. He is a spineless wonder with a stylish purple-yellow complexion (that sometimes changes to a delightful yellow-purple) and eight arms studded with hundreds of calamari rings, erm, suckers. As observers watched, he wrapped himself around the pole between the two tanks, occasionally extending several of his eight legs in a wistful manner toward the German tank before moving his entire body onto the Spanish side.

“Once he sat on top of the Spanish glass, he opened the lid with one tentacle and grabbed the mussel with another one,” said Daniel Fey, Sea Life Aquarium spokesman.

So far, Paul has been 100% correct in his prognostications for the 2010 World Cup championships; choosing Germany over Ghana, England and Argentina — and even correctly predicting Germany’s loss to Serbia. So disappointed fans are worried. However, Paul has been wrong (once) before in his lifetime of predictions: during the UEFA European Championship tournament in 2008, Paul picked Germany; Spain won 1-0.

“Paul has decided that Spain will win,” said a disappointed Fey. “BUT — and that’s a big ‘but’ — Paul got it wrong only one time and that was also a game between Germany and Spain, therefore we think he just simply can’t get it right when it comes to this combination.”

He added that experts — both scientists and bookies — are still pondering whether Paul’s forecasts on games between Germany and Spain can be trusted since the spineless oracle may have a case of color blindness — the German tricolor flag of black, red and yellow may be hard to distinguish from the red-yellow-red stripes of Spain.

Nevertheless, if Germany wins the semifinal match tomorrow, Paul will still be allowed to predict the outcome of Sunday’s final as well, Fey said.

For my German readers:

Comments

  1. #1 Pete Moulton
    July 6, 2010

    Well, I guess that’s it. Now we don’t even have to watch the match and subject ourselves to the obnoxious droning of the vuvuzelas.

  2. #2 cephyn
    July 7, 2010

    The octopod was right.

  3. #3 Cristina
    July 8, 2010

    One of your Spanish readers is planning a rescue mission to keep Paul from becoming sushi for some rabid German football fans! ;o)

    Never have I been so happy with an octopus! Or with a football match :p (well, I was probably this excited 2 years ago when we also defeated Germany!). I keep writing wherever I go:
    OHE! OHE! OHE! OHEEEEEEEE!!!!! VIVA ESPAÑA!!!!

    http://crazycrishereandthere.blogspot.com/2010/07/ohe-ohe-ohe-oheeeeee.html

  4. #4 Evaristus Ugwuobia
    July 8, 2010

    http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2010/07/paul_the_prognosticating_octop.php
    Is there anyway i can use Paul in other sports prognostications such as American baseball or other sports.
    thank you
    Evaristus

  5. #5 Thomas Joseph
    July 8, 2010

    That octopus is, IIRC, 10 out of 11 in its prognostications over its lifetime. Impressive!

  6. #6 mazahir ahmed khan
    July 10, 2010

    my octopus theory: how is he pridicting?
    ans: i have analysed all his prediction and I have done analysis on assumption that he chooses flags on the basis of colour. i dont know whether the flag is shown to him or not at the time of prediction.
    my analysis is as follows:
    1) he chooses black colour as most of his sea food might be black, only once he has not done this in case of SERBIA vs GERMANY may be he was in mood of trying some different non-black food.
    2) he doesnt like red and white combination may be it is colour of some poisnous sea animal which he must not eat.
    and for coming final also he has not choosen HOLAND as it contains red and white combination.
    and guys dont blame me if my theory go wrong as this analysis is done in 2 minutes…. ha ha ha

  7. #7 oyunlar
    July 10, 2010

    i love octopus. I have always wanted to feed an octopus

  8. #8 seslisohbet
    July 10, 2010

    he chooses black colour as most of his sea food might be black, only once he has not done this in case of SERBIA vs GERMANY may be he was in mood of trying some different non-black food.