Today’s footie, an email from Brazil, and the status of the Big Contest

June 28, 2014 • 7:07 am

First, today’s schedule, as if you need it. I won’t be able to watch either of the games as I’ll be seeing America’s National Sport live. Pity, because these are good matchups:

Screen shot 2014-06-28 at 7.59.49 AM

Second, I have an email and photos from reader (and author) Pamela Turner, who just happens to be in Brazil for the Big Tournament. I’m posting it with permission of both her and Mr. Castro:

Some months ago I sent you a copy of my book THE DOLPHINS OF SHARK BAY and when I asked about a book about the Bible from a social and historical perspective, you recommended Bart Ehrman’s books. (Very helpful, by the way).

[JAC: The Dolphins of Shark Bay, written for kids from 10 to 14, is a very good natural-history book, with engaging (and accurate) biology and wonderful photographs.]

I’m writing because I’m in Brazil for the World Cup, and spent a few days at a remote floating lodge (the Uakari) in the Amazon. One of the guides, a biology student named Willian Castro (the “n” in Willian is not a typo) came to watch the Brazil – Mexico game on the resort TV in a Brazil jersey with “C. DARWIN” on the back.


And he sported a tattoo on his calf that I recognized with great delight. Photos attached.


I confess the 5’3′ for the jersey number went right over my head, but Willian said it referred to a mutation rate.

[JAC: I’m pretty sure I know what those numbers mean, but I’ll leave it to the DNA mavens to explain them in the comments.]

In case you would like to post the photos, I have Willian’s permission. I don’t think anybody else had ever figured out his tattoo and he was very happy to show it off.

Just for fun I’m attaching a photo of the stadium in Manaus just before the US – Portugal game. An amazing tropical sunset. The game in Recife was miserable to get to—it took us 5 hours travel time from the city center. But at least everybody in the stadium left happy since both teams advanced.


Finally, one of our readers (to be named later) has kindly kept a spreadsheet of all the entries in the Big Contest (i.e., name the final two teams and the final score), and gives us an update:

Of the 91 entries, 55 are still alive, 36 are out.  Opinion is narrow.  46 expect some version of a Germany or Brazil vs Argentina or Netherlands final.
15 have ARG v BRA, 8-7 Brazi (JAC: those are not scores, but the number of entries guessing each of the two winners)
14 have BRA v NED, 8-6 Brazil
9 have GER v NED, 5-4 Germany
8 have GER V ARG, 6-2 Germany.

Of the other nine still alive entries, 6 chose one of those four teams to win, 2 picking BRA or NED, 1 picking GER or ARG.  So the totals are: Brazil 18, Germany and Netherlands 12, Argentina 10.  The three remaining picks are Belgium, Switzerland and Uruguay.  Teams picked to lose in the Final are BEL (4), France (3) and URU (2).

Remember that in case of a tie, the first correct entry wins. If there are no ties, the judgement of Professor Ceiling Cat, using an immensely complicated algorithm based on predicted scores, is final. Remember, the prize is an autographed copy of WEIT with a drawn-in cat playing football, with the cat wearing your team’s colors!

26 thoughts on “Today’s footie, an email from Brazil, and the status of the Big Contest

  1. Should be some intense games. Looking forward to a mellow saturday with a bit of footie.

  2. My cat Attacus has picked the final 2 teams. It will be Nederlands 2 – Brazil 1.
    I must say his picker has not been too good lately however.

  3. Without the claim of it being a mutation rate reference, I would have interpreted the 5’3′ to refer to the direction of assembly of DNA nucleotides by DNA polymerase III during replication.

    1. Not just Pol III. All DNA polymerisation occurring in nature is in the 5′ to 3′ direction, without exception. Applies to RNA too.

  4. As happens every 4 years, I will be torn, this weekend, between coverage of the World Cup and Auntie’s coverage of Glastonbury Festival. Fortunately, there is BBC iPlayer, which will fill in the gaps.

    On those occasions that I have been lucky enough to get a ticket for Glasto’, and England have still been involved in the footie, Farmer Eavis has been kind enough to ensure that England games are shown on the large screens either side of the Pyramid stage, after they were first used in the 80s.

    1. The software company Genious had some temporary tats of Darwin’s tree. Mine stayed on for days–got some more to use later!

      I think I might like a permanent one!

      As a somewhat connected bonus: At a store yesterday I saw sunscreen spray specially labeled for tattoos. Protection from fading. What a brilliant marketing scheme. If people won’t use it to stop cancer, maybe they’ll use it to protect their expensive tats!

  5. Yes to the above 5’3′ comments, and the numbers refer to the carbon numbers on the ribose/deoxyribose rings, between which the ether linkage is formed on polymerization.

    1. …and it’s pronounced ‘five-prime-three-prime’, which one probably wouldn’t guess if one didn’t know.

    2. …and the “primes” are there because the nucleotide base (purine or pyrimidine A,T,G,C…) gets the numbers without the primes so the ribose sugar carbon atoms are primed in the chemical notation.

    1. That was my first thought, which I immediately rejected because my friend Mr C. Darwin was very nearly a six-footer.

  6. Unimpressed by Brazil. Won their first match against Croatia with the help of the ref: first an undeserved penalty and later a goal after a non adjudicated foul (reminiscent of the Spanish goal in the extra time of the final in 2010 after a non adjudicated corner kick).
    No, as said I’m really not impressed with this Brazil team, I’d rather have seen Chili, a better and younger team, through.

    1. Agree – without Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (that should be on his shirt!) they are ordinary.

  7. Argentina v Colombia 3-2, so there! Prediction for the final-stuff not working properly here. 🙁

  8. i was never into soccer until i saw brasil play from that day forth i started like soccer i suppõrt brasil all the way and wha t makes m e proud

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