Ashes of Paul the Octopus to be on display

(Agence France-Presse)

Paul the octopus, who shot to fame during the football World Cup last year for his flawless record in predicting the outcome of games, will get a shrine to mark three months since he died, his aquarium said Monday.


The Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, revealed the tentacled tipster will on Thursday be honoured with a “Paul Corner” at his former home, containing his ashes and a “huge memorial”.


There will be a statue around 1.80 metres high of Paul, on top of a football, in the middle of which will be a see-through window with the golden urn containing Paul’s ashes: Tanja Munzig.


Paul thrilled punters and cost bookmakers a small fortune during the World Cup in South Africa in June and July by defying the odds to tip correctly seven German matches and Spain’s 1-0 triumph against the Netherlands in the final.


For the prediction, two boxes were lowered into the salty soothsayer’s tank, each containing a mussel and the flag of the two opposing teams.


About the math


According to information available at Wikipedia, assuming Paul’s predictions were no better than fair independent coin flips, the probability of at least 12 successful predictions from 14 attempts is p = 0.0065, or 0.65% (154 to 1) and the probability of his 8 successful World Cup predictions out of 8 attempts is 1/28 = 0.0039, or 0.39% (256 to 1). The first three matches were in the group stage where the outcome could have been a win, loss, or draw, resulting in a less than 50% probability of getting the result correct. Assuming a probability of 33.3% in 6 out of 14 matches instead, the probability for 12 or more successes can be simulated numerically to be 0.11% (corresponding to 3.2 standard deviations in gaussian statistics).


Paul started to receive international recognition after he correctly predicted Germany’s win over England; after that he made four correct predictions. The chance of those final four predictions being correct is (1/2)4 = 6.25% (odds 16 to 1).


José Mérida, a data analyst from Guatemala used a coin tossing model to calculate that only 178 individuals are needed to have someone correctly predict all the winners from a series of 8 matches; and points out that there were certainly thousands and thousands of individuals all over the world attempting to make these predictions during the 2010 World Cup.


File photo

Paul died peacefully in his sleep aged nearly three in October 2010 (common octopuses live on average no more than two years), sparking hundreds of messages of condolence from his Facebook fan club, whose ranks have more than tripled since his death to 200,000.


The Sea Life Centre unveiled a replacement, French octopus named Paul II, on November 3rd.


The new cephalopod has not yet been tested on the field of play although speculation is rife that he could be wheeled out for the next European championship, in Ukraine and Poland in 2012.


January 17th, 2010.


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