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‘Psychic’ octopus Paul maintains perfect match prediction record

It won't come as much of a consolation to heartbroken German fans, but at least Paul, Germany's now world-famous "Octopus oracle," has maintained his perfect record predicting World Cup matches this summer.

'Psychic' octopus Paul maintains perfect match prediction record
Photo: DPA

The “psychic” creature has correctly predicted all six of Germany’s matches and, amid excruciating drama broadcast live on national television on Tuesday, plumped for Spain, causing anguish across the country.

The eight-legged soccer soothsayer was spot on Wednesday, as Carles Puyol’s semi-final header shattered Germany’s dreams of winning their fourth World Cup.

Two plastic boxes, one with a German flag and one with a Spanish, were lowered into Paul’s tank at an aquarium in western Germany, each with a tasty morsel of food inside.

The box which Paul opens first is judged to be his predicted winner.

But with classic fickleness, German fans turned against their beloved octopus after he forecast a Spanish win.

According to daily Der Westen, there have been “a host of comments on Facebook, Twitter … suggesting Paul should be fried, grilled or turned into a seafood salad or paella. Others wanted to throw him into the shark tank.”

On Berlin’s “fan-mile,” a massive open air set-up where hundreds of thousands of fans watched the game, some sections of the crowd also turned against their former hero, singing anti-octopus songs.

The Spanish government on Thursday expressed concern for the future well-being of Paul, expressing concern the Germans may take some kind of ‘revenge’ for their exit on the mollusc medium.

“I am concerned for the octopus … I am thinking of sending him a protective team,” joked Prime Minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero on Radio Cadena Ser.

Environment and Fisheries Minister Elena Espinosa suggested there be a moratorium on going after Paul: “On Monday, I shall be at the European Council of Ministers and I shall be asking for a (fishing) ban on Paul the octopus so the Germans do not eat him!”

Such sentiments were echoed by the Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian, who even called for the creature to be given an “immediate” free transfer to Spain to “ensure his protection.”

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Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world. 

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