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Octopus Oracle Picking Winners in World Cup
July 9, 2010

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What has eight legs and can predict the future?

No, it's not a group of four psychics (although it could be). The eight legs in question belong to one entity, namely an octopus named Paul. Seems this denizen of the below-water-level sphere has made a name for itself by correctly predicting the results of soccer games in the 2010 World Cup.

Paul the octopus lives in an aquarium at Sea Life in Oberhausen, Germany. So far, Paul has correctly predicted all of Germany's results, including the 1-0 loss to Serbia. Germany so far has also defeated Australia and Ghana in the initial round and recently defeated England in the round-of-16. That result would have been particular devastating for supporters of England's team, since Paul was born in Weymouth, England.

How does he do it? Workers at the aquarium have devised a system that involves lowering into Paul's tank two plastic containers of food, each one decorated with the flags of the two countries contesting the soccer match. Observers have interpreted Paul's initial opening of a food container as his pick for the upcoming soccer match. So far in this year's matches, he's got them all right. (It should be noted here, too, that Germany's 4-1 defeat of England followed Paul's rather rapid tackling of the food container bearing the German flag.)

He took a lot longer to choose the winner between Germany and Argentina, however, pausing nearly an hour before eventually picking Germany. Final score: Germany 4, Argentina 1.

Sadly for Germany, they lost in the semifinals, to Spain. Oddly enough, Paul picked that one, too.

Paul's antics are not a one-off, either. Similar behavior was observed during the European championships in 2008, when Paul correctly signalled the winner of four of Germany's five matches.



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