“It is hugely complicated. In fact, compared to football I think Quantum Physics is relatively straightforward.”
– Professor Stephen Hawking
Even you, Stephen?
If you pick up basically any newspaper in Ireland or the UK today, you’ll probably find a story about Professor Stephen Hawking’s “formula for World Cup success”. At first glance, it doesn’t look good: The World’s Most Famous Scientist appears finally to have succumbed to the temptation of nonsense formula publicity.
ACHTUNG: This post contains no information which could progress humanity’s understanding of the universe it inhabits. It contains links to several terrible newspapers. I have not fixed any of the issues in the source material, typographical, mathematical, grammatical, or otherwise. We are about to plumb the depths of innumeracy and inanity; consider yourself warned.
The Manchester Evening News published a story a few days ago with this unusual headline: “(-Rav)/ t = R: Manchester boffins find formula for why toast lands butter side down”. Maybe the w (or ω) was present in the print version. Anyway, the article hits most of the bad formula reporting points: poorly typeset formula in headline; no explanation of variables; no link to the paper or the researchers; use of the word “boffins”; use of the phrase “infuriated puzzled scientists for more than a century”; formula invented to promote a product.