X-ray division

November 30, 2001

Two PhD students at the University of Warwick have sprung to fame after using statistical physics to analyse the number of goals scored at football matches.

John Greenhalgh and Paul Birch, who are researching X-ray bursts from accretion discs around black holes, examined some 13,000 English top-division matches and 5,000 FA Cup matches since 1970. They found that standard statistical techniques well described the distribution of goals in most matches, according to Physics World magazine. However, if either team scored more than six goals or when the total number of goals was more than nine, "extremal" statistics applied.

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