back to article Footie ballsup: Petition kicks off to fix 'geometrically impossible' street signs

A petition has been launched to update the UK Traffic Signs Regulations to include a geometrically correct football. The ball shown on UK street signs to denote football grounds is made up entirely of hexagons. And if you care about your geometry, you'll know it's mathematically impossible to construct a ball using only …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    Signed.

    To be honest, I hadn't noticed, but this kind of sloppiness shouldn't be tolerated.

    1. Oh Homer
      Mushroom

      Mathematically impossible...

      Actually the sign is correct. Having mathematically impossible street signs fits perfectly with our mathematically impossible economy.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Mathematically impossible...

        Actually the sign is correct.

        Amber Rudd is talking to football manufacturers right now. She's quoted as saying "I don't see why they can't make footballs out of nothing but hexagons, it seems perfectly simple to me. If they don't comply, the government will consider legislation to make them comply."

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Mathematically impossible...

          Just hire one of the children sewing them to explain Ms. Rudd why it is impossible...

          1. MyffyW Silver badge

            Re: Mathematically impossible...

            The children sewing them, being poor and foreign, will of course not be allowed anywhere near the Home Sec. She'd have them detained in Feltham whilst she proved that they were "economic migrants".

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Mathematically impossible...

        If only we still had Escher around to design our road junction layouts.

        1. Major N

          Re: Mathematically impossible...

          clearly you've never driven around Derby or Swindon....

      3. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Mathematically impossible...

        Especially 2 1/4. 2 1/4 WHAT? Miles? Km? Double Deckers? Everton Supporters?

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Mathematically impossible...

          About that... it's missing the solidus, so it's anybody's guess what "214" is supposed to mean...

        2. collinsl

          Re: Mathematically impossible...

          > Everton Supporters?

          You mis-spelled "Entire Everton Fan club"

      4. swm Bronze badge

        Re: Mathematically impossible...

        This is perfectly possible on a torus.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Signed.

      Perhaps it's just an infinitely large ball ?

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Signed.

        Suddenly everything becomes clear. I'd always assumed someone had cut the edges off the pepperoni.

      2. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Signed.

        "Perhaps it's just an infinitely large ball ?"

        Or maybe the shadow of a 4 dimensional football?

        1. PNGuinn
          Mushroom

          Or maybe the shadow of a 4 dimensional football?

          The country cannot afford both this and the Prime Sinister.

          Reality will explode. Boris will become Prime Dexter. The world as we know it will end on thursday ....

          Just mandate that the ugly game be played with 2 dimensional balls. Or street signs.

          >> Or one of these.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Signed.

        "Perhaps it's just an infinitely large ball ?"

        Or a spherical cow(oid)...

        1. PNGuinn
          Thumb Up

          Or a spherical cow(oid)...

          Perfectly smooth?

          1. Chemical Bob

            Re: Or a spherical cow(oid)...

            "Perfectly smooth?"

            And in a vacuum.

      4. _Seb

        Re: Signed.

        I mean everyone is absolutely missing that it is correct, just not in Euclidian space, I mean you could teach about this interesting geometry (first made using crochet was the positive curvature space) which seems to be this chaps point, clearly doesn't understand enough about geometry.

      5. PNGuinn
        Trollface

        Re: Signed.

        Burn the witch!

        just change the shape of balls nationwide to eliminate rounded corners.

        Or mandate that all footy be played with watermelons.

        Or ban it altogether. Or tax it.

    3. EastFinchleyite

      Used to it by now

      "but this kind of sloppiness shouldn't be tolerated."

      I dunno, I'm a Brighton supporter and you get used to this sort of thing. Compared with Withdean, this is a breeze.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Facepalm

    You know you have too much time on your hands when . . .

    Also, just because he isn't following "a Lovecraftian monster from beyond our perception" doesn't mean nobody is. The Elder Gods just haven't blessed him with The Sight. For that matter, he obviously isn't aware of the hidden symbolism of the hexagonal football--but wait, I've said too much. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. Ia! Ia!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You know you have too much time on your hands when . . .

      And there was I thinking nothing in this universe could possibly matter less that 22 overpaid tosspots chasing a pigskin round a field.

      I sit corrected.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        22 overpaid tosspots chasing a pigskin round a field.

        I didn't think that were that many members of the Bullingdon Club left in the Cabinet.

        1. PNGuinn
          Go

          Re: 22 overpaid tosspots chasing a pigskin round a field.

          "I didn't think that were that many members of the Bullingdon Club left in the Cabinet."

          Bbbut - imagine that they where chasing our great leader round the pitch, with the intention of administrating a long and effective subtle re education ....

          THAT would be a match worth watching in all its gory.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: You know you have too much time on your hands when . . .

        "overpaid tosspots chasing a pigskin round a field."

        The perpetrators of the petition want a word. They want to tell you the field isn't round.

        Personally I think the sign should be changed to an image of an inflated porcine bladder in the interests of historical accuracy.

    2. John Savard Silver badge

      Re: You know you have too much time on your hands when . . .

      Clearly, it's appropriate that the sign should contain a stylized representation of a soccer ball, rather than a realistic drawing with curvature and shading to give an appearance of depth.

      So a circular window into the flat tessellation of alternate-colored hexagons that is analogous to the surface of a spherical soccer ball is one simple way to achieve that.

      Of course, usually curved lines would be used in a stylized representation of the pre-Eigil Nielsen style of soccer ball, just as they are in stylized representations of baseballs or basketballs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You know you have too much time on your hands when . . .

        "Clearly, it's appropriate that the sign should contain a stylized representation of a soccer ball"

        No it's ideally a stylised representation of a football. As opposed to hand-egg (American football).

  3. Marcel
    Paris Hilton

    Metric please

    That 2¼ is kilometers, right? RIGHT?!?! No? Okay, maybe it's not mathematically incorrect, but at least it's mathematically stupid. Fix it.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: Metric please

      Are you saying you want to see the units (understandable), or would you like the UK to adopt kilometres as our unit of road distance (not going to happen)?

    2. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Metric please

      Why is the mile the stupid measurement? Imperial measurements are based on human perceptions of distance. A mile is 8 furlongs, and a furlong is the furrow length of an field of one acre.

      No more stupid than the metre being one ten millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator.

      1. Steve Evans

        Re: Metric please

        Don't be silly.

        A Metre is perfectly well defined in day-to-day terms. It's the distance travelled by light in a vacuum in 1/299792458 seconds.

      2. RustyNailed
        Boffin

        Re: Metric please

        By a somewhat lovely coincidence, the best answer to this question (IMO) is also provided by Matt Parker (yes the same one of the petition in the original article), via a video on Youtube:

        Are Imperial Measurements outdated? | Number Hub with Matt Parker

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7x-RGfd0Yk

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Number Hub with Matt Parker

          I prefer Humber Nub with Norman Holtby, local pundit, real ale expert and whippet breeder.

          1. Roj Blake Silver badge

            Re: Number Hub with Matt Parker

            Number Wang is still the best though.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Metric please... WTF, who cares

          Perfect shape.... 2 metric units...? Just leave it alone!

          Why not just drop both of those marks and have it say "Stadium -->". Granted, the pictorial of a human smaller than a ball would have to be dropped from the far left. However, I see no issue with that from the poltically correct non-humans that will be seeing the sign.

          Or... spend millions and make nothing into an insightful nothing (a government classic)

          1. The Indomitable Gall

            Re: Metric please... WTF, who cares

            @MyBackDoor:

            " Why not just drop both of those marks and have it say "Stadium -->". "

            Because it's two-and-a-quarter miles away, which is almost 20 stadia. Duh!

      3. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

        Re: Metric please

        @Flatpackhamster

        The mile is an excellent base unit. In this modern world, it should be divided into 65536 new inches, as opposed to 63,360 old inches. Then a new foot is 16 new inches, and a new rod/pole/perch is 16 new feet. A furlong is one eighth of a mile (512 new feet), and a cricket pitch is one tenth of a furlong at 51.2 new feet.

        What could be simpler?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Metric please

          @Primus Secundundus Tertius (are you related to J R-M?)

          Of course, the representations should be 0x10000 inches to a mile, a foot is 0x10 inches, rod/pole/perch is 0x10 feet, furlong 0x200 feet etc. Then you can have the beautiful confusion between hexadecimal and decimal number systems in schools, so we can easily separate our future developers from users.

          1. Haku

            Re: Metric please

            Can we have the Celcius vs Fahrenheit argument next please?

            I always enjoy watching people get hot headed over that one so I can tell them to chill out.

            1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

              Re: please

              Don't forget the bi-annual clock changing welly wangling that we go through

              And while we are at it tell those americans that there is a unit of weight greater than a pound.

              1. Not also known as SC

                Re: please

                @Steve Davies 3

                Don't forget the bi-annual clock changing welly wangling that we go through

                Don't worry - we have the Independent to help us tell if our phones have updated correctly with advice like

                The clocks went back overnight. But did your clocks go back?

                In the age of smartphones, smart TVs and smart home appliances, changing the clocks is at once much easier but more stressful. Almost everything adjusts automatically – but how can you be sure that it has?

                The easiest way to know whether everything has updated is to check it against something authoritative, like the TV news.

                http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/what-time-is-it-how-to-check-your-iphone-lose-an-hour-a7387306.html

                and virtually the very same article about clocks going forward but this time published 10th March 2017, two weeks early ... The clocks went forward overnight. But did your clocks go forward?"

                http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/what-time-is-it-how-to-check-if-your-iphone-or-android-updated-for-the-clocks-going-forward-a6954831.html

            2. techmind
              Happy

              Re: Metric please

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nROK4cjQVXM

              John Finnemore Celsius vs Fahrenheit sketch :-)

              (Finnemore is brilliant!)

          2. Gazareth

            Re: Metric please

            @Loyal Commenter

            "@Primus Secundundus Tertius (are you related to J R-M?)"

            No, but he's mates with Dusty Bin.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Metric please

          cubits

          stadia

          Or perhaps the Egyptian Great Shat (half a cubit)

          1. collinsl

            Re: Metric please

            How long is a stadia, pray?

            1. The Indomitable Gall

              Re: Metric please

              " How long is a stadia, pray? "

              How long is a pieces of string?

              1. Ben Bonsall

                Re: Metric please

                How long is a pieces of string?

                one metric stringlength.

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Metric please

          and a new rod/pole/perch is 16 new feet

          Which means the expression also needs to change to "not touching that with a 16 new feet pole".

      4. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Metric please

        @Flatpackhamster - "Imperial measurements are based on human ox perceptions of distance."

        FTFY.

        Icon - the one with the cheese and pickle sandwich in the pocket, please.

  4. jaysel

    A national embarrassment......except that no one really notice.....or even cared for that matter!

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      It's a national embarrassment that our new Aircraft Carriers have exactly zero (0x0, null, none) cats, traps and indeed aircraft for the foreseeable future.

      Road signs are always conceptual, at best. For some years I was convinced that "Dam and Fish Ladder" was a Gaelic curse around Pitlochry. I was deluded, but also entertained.

      1. PNGuinn
        Pirate

        @ MyffyW

        "It's a national embarrassment that our new Aircraft Carriers have exactly zero (0x0, null, none) cats, traps and indeed aircraft for the foreseeable future."

        That is perfectly correct. Badgers are the new approved maritime pet. Do keep up.

  5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Dear editor

    I would like to point out that Euclid was european and following our glorious Brexit we no longer are forced to abide by some foreign elements.

    We invented the game and can make the ball any shape we please.

    Your etc

    Col Mustache (retd)

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Dear editor

      I was going to suggest that it was time the non-barriered level crossing sign (steam engine) and speed camera sign (bellows camera) were updated to something more modern, but then I remembered that the government intends taking us back to the 1950s, so they are entirely appropriate after all.

      1. Whiskers

        Anachronisms

        In keeping with the anachronistic steam-train and bellows-camera signs, shouldn't the soccer ball depicted be one of the real leather lace-up sort with large complex curved panels? The Bucky-ball shape is too modern.

        1. Fink-Nottle

          Re: Anachronisms

          Why not opt for the silhouette of a pile of jumpers? That wouldn't be confusing in the least.

          1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

            Re: Anachronisms

            Enduring image

        2. PNGuinn
          Facepalm

          Re: Anachronisms, lace up balls ... ooh matron

          But how should we tie the laces?

          You'd need several high powered public enquiries, lots and lots of site visits for research, reams of paper for the reports and inevitable minority reports, impact assessments, sub committee reports on inclusion, gender equality, .....

          We'd be bankrupt.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Dear editor

      European

      Union

      Committee

      de L'schéma pour

      Informations sur les

      Directions?

  6. Colonel Mad

    Signed

    Had to

    1. Scott 26

      Re: Signed

      No longer a resident, nor a citizen, but shared the video to Social Media (tm) for my UK friends

  7. PghMike

    There'll always be an England.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Cornish separatists? Campaign for the restoration of an independent Kingdom of Northumbria?

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      Global rise in sea level...?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about Pseudo mathematics? Can I make a ball out of hexagons using that?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Bistromathics.

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Advanced Bistromatics!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely footballs made of hexagons and/or pentagons are old hat now ... surely to be recognizable to the kidz of today they should use whatever the latest aerdynamic stitching shape that Nike/Adidas/etc have come up with/patented for their latest "must have word cup souvenier ball". Meanwhile, tjhey should be dealing with all the disappointed people going to zoos/wildlife parks to find that theire actually isn't an elephant there!

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Progress

      Meanwhile, they should be dealing with all the disappointed people going to zoos/wildlife parks to find that there actually isn't an elephant there!

      Just install matrix LED panels showing the various animals present in the zoo being signposted. So that if you're looking for, say, an aardvaark, you can skip all the zoos that don't show one.

      1. AS1

        Re: Progress

        With augmented reality glasses, you could enter your animals of interest and only see the direction signs for locations containing those animals. The road safety aspects of minimising real signs to important ones, instead of littering the roadside with endless signs for uninteresting locations that still have to be read and filtered out, should not be understated (in the government funding bid).

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Progress

          With augmented reality glasses, you could enter your animals of interest

          And see what? A sexier sheep? Muffin' the mule is illegal in all decent jurisdictions you know...

          On which subject, there was a program on BBC4 on Sunday, called 'Addicted to Sheep'. I wasn't sure whether it was a hard-hitting documentary on farming, or aimed at a more specialist market.

          1. Simon Harris Silver badge

            Re: Progress

            "Addicted to sheep"

            Is there a Mutton I'd like to ... section?

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Progress

          "littering the roadside with endless signs"

          Some years ago, I counted 48 road signs informing me of roadworks on the A66 approaching Warcop. I assume there was a similar number on the approach from the other side.

          1. Cynical Observer
            Trollface

            Re: Progress

            @John B

            It has been postulated that the true reason that there are never-ending roadworks on the UK motorways (especially the M6) is that the government does not own a field large enough to store the traffic cones...

            1. Mixedbag
              Stop

              Re: Progress

              Have you been talking to my wife? She is rather fond of that theory though in our case it's usually the M1 and M62 where they are storing far too many of them.

          2. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: Progress

            . I assume there was a similar number on the approach from the other side.

            If not, there is an error in the Matrix.

        3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Progress

          @AS1 - "With augmented reality glasses, you could enter your animals of interest and " visit any car park, but experience a full zoo of your desires.

          Oh, and where's my flying car?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "must have word cup souvenir ball" *

      * not available in Scotland

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: not available in Ecosse

        Except in 1978....

  10. John Mangan

    Aah, I finally see!

    If the Government doesn't understand basic geometry no wonder they have problems with encryption and other sophisticated maths.

    Signed, naturally.

  11. steamrunner

    Oi, mate!!! ...

    .... can you kick back my truncated icosahedron? It's over there by the side of the path! Cheers!

    1. Haku
      Coat

      Re: Oi, mate!!! ...

      "What's that?"

      "It's a designated section of land, usually either a man made narrow walkway or a way beaten, formed, or trodden by the feet of persons or animals due to the location/terrain.

      But that's not important right now."

  12. Ralph the Wonder Llama
    Joke

    Nothing new about this

    A headline of "English Football National Embarrassment" would not denote news. I cannot, and would not, speak for other UK countries.

  13. dc_m

    Really, I think we have more important things to worry about right now!

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Did you know?

      The human mind has this amazing ability of being able to be used for more than a single purpose!

      Whodathunkit?

      For instance, it is entirely possible to be consider several things to be bloody stupid ideas simultaneously. For instance; Anything Donald J Trump says, 'Hard Brexit', eating prawn salad that has been left out for 24 hours, etc. etc.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: Did you know?

        The Government, on the other hand, claims that Parliament is too busy to be involved in all that boring legislative work and so we should abandon democracy in favour of an autocracy.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the only one

    The generic pictures of cameras show a design of folding reflex with bellows that hasn't been around for very many years. The picture of a narrowboat on canal signs is something that would not be very practical, to say the least.

    And the problem here is surely that the projection of a football onto a flat surface is rather complicated, so a generic hexagon tiling is much easier to do. Perhaps his improved signs should have a QR tag providing links to information about geometric projections, the problems of tiling a sphere, and the address of the nearest A&E.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not the only one

      Indeed.

      Pictograms are fundamentally associative and not representational: this is difference with skeuomorphism. I'm sure biologists and architects would be only to happy to point out the problems with the pictograms for fish, elephants and castles.

      1. Throatwobbler Mangrove

        Re: Not the only one

        You only get pictograms in Scotland. In England they're called Saxongrams.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Not the only one

      Tiling a sphere! That explains the problems I still have due to heading a few goals in the sixties.

  15. Frank Bitterlich
    Coat

    The laws of mathematics...

    ... are very commendable, but the only law that applies in the UK is the law of Australia the UK the FIFA.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: The laws of mathematics...

      Actually the laws of football are set by the IFAB, which consists of one vote from each of the FA's from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and four votes from FIFA.

      </pedantry>

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No it doesn't

    It merely shows the 'front' half of an example ball. The rear half, unseen, is just a single piece of leather.

  17. Haku
    Facepalm

    1st world problems.

    You want to talk about 'impossible' street signs? How about the slippery road one showing tyre tracks that cross over, indicating the vehicle spun 180 degrees, but there's only two tracks.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: 1st world problems.

      No, that's "Vehicle being carried off by snakes".

      1. Oh Homer
        Paris Hilton

        Re: "Vehicle being carried off by snakes"

        I'm still trying to figure out why there are so many boomerang hazards on our country roads, and who the hell is that man with the brolly?

      2. Pedigree-Pete
        Pint

        Re: Vehicle being carried off by snakes

        @Stoneshop. I was going to post "Not in Ireland" but is seems our cousins over the small pond have better graphics than us.

        http://www.drivingtesttips.ie/Warning-Traffic-Signs.php. PP

        >> Friday and ref Irelend (Guinness icon req (other dark beers are available)) so double whammy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1st world problems.

      But if only the back brakes locked up (in pre abs days or via a little touch of handbrake) that would be the case.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: 1st world problems.

        But if only the back brakes locked up (in pre abs days or via a little touch of handbrake) that would be the case.

        As soon as the car is slewing sideways more than some 30 degrees from its direction of travel, all four wheels will be skidding and thus leaving marks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 1st world problems.

          "As soon as the car is slewing sideways more than some 30 degrees from its direction of travel, all four wheels will be skidding and thus leaving marks."

          No it doesn't, sometimes yes, sometimes no. Depends on the surface and the rubber used in the tyres and the type of skid. The front tyres are directional and can pivot on the spot. If you do half a handbrake turn and then release the handbrake and roll backwards then the front wheels won't (usually) leave a mark but the back wheels will. Similarly if you send too much power to the back wheels of a rear wheel drive car and spin it, you will often just get rear tyre marks left.

          Having worked in motorsport I've seen some very unusual tyre marks left, some of which would suggest a very mutant car if you hadn't seen the spin first hand.

    3. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: 1st world problems.

      There's also the one for men at work that clearly shows a man opening an umbrella.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: 1st world problems.

        There's also the one for men at work that clearly shows a man opening an umbrella.

        Can be hard work, those damn things tend to get stuck much too often, especially those compact ones where the ribs are supposed to fold.

        Apropos, there has been a study comparing the sizes of the pile of soil on those signs from across the world, but I can't find it at the moment. Personally I know of the difference between the Dutch and Norwegian warning signs for cattle on road: on the Dutch sign the cow is moving, the Norwegian one shows a stationary one. Which matches the actual animals's (lack of) action.

      2. Chris 239

        Re: 1st world problems.

        Can't believe I got this far down the comments before the man opening umbrella sign came up.

        I was beginning to thing I might be able get it in first!

    4. Kristian Walsh

      Re: 1st world problems.

      If your first impression after seeing the sign was "that car has spun around", then the sign has succeeded.

      Signs aren't pictures, they're intended to convey an idea quickly, and unambiguously. Some signs don't seem to much sense if you analyse them, but the "odd" choices are there for a reason: "Food available" shows a spoon-and-fork because the more "obvious" fork and knife looks like a crossed-out fork at a distance, or "no food available". The bellows-camera is like that because no other sign looks like it, and it is recognisable as a camera. Same goes for the "choo-choo" train. The skid is missing tracks because showing two more of them adds visual clutter and obfuscates the meaning.

      If you want a genuinely dumb UK road sign that needs changing, I would nominate this: http://www.key.co.uk/img/W/KEY/nt/IC/nt-img20070322130940_101357.jpg

      If you said "footpath", you're in for a nasty surprise, but it's an perfectly sane assumption to make. Especially if, as a non-driver, you're someone who has never opened a copy of the Highway Code...

      It actually means "No pedestrians", and while it is consistent with the rules of the road signage system, it's inconsistent with how people interpret symbols. There's a reason why the "no left turn" and "no right turn" and "no parking" got diagonal bars through their sign designs, but for some reason, this one escaped.

      (Ireland uses a slight variation of the UK signage system, but one in which all round, "prohibition" signs have a diagonal through them to make the meaning clear; here's our "no pedestrians": http://trafficsigns.ie/rus-038/ )

      My favourite UK sign-trivia is about the "School children" sign used in the UK: In the original international signage design, this sign depicted an older boy is leading a younger girl ( https://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/60395/60395,1217349674,4/stock-vector-warning-children-on-road-sign-illustration-15493621.jpg ), but the UK version has an older girl leading a younger boy ( https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/article_small/public/thumbnails/image/2016/05/09/08/children-road-sign-new.jpg ) because Margaret Calvert, who designed the signs, used to accompany her sometimes unwilling younger brother to school. That's about as close as a road-sign designer can get to self-portraiture, I think...

      (Many countries now mix and match the "big-sister" and "big-brother" versions of this sign, but the UK exclusively uses young Master Calvert being dragged to class by his big sister...)

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: 1st world problems.

        Same goes for the "choo-choo" train.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_signs_in_Germany#/media/File:Zeichen_151_-_Bahn%C3%BCbergang,_StVO_2013.svg

        1. Kristian Walsh

          @Stoneshop - Re: 1st world problems.

          Actually, the new German train sign (introduced in 1992) is an "interesting" (depending on how interested you are in graphic design and signage, of course ;) ) example of how to change a design without losing recognition. I cannot find a link to the story I read about this now, sadly, so this is a summary:

          This new version of this sign replaces a steam-train design ( https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bild_12_-_Unbeschrankter_Bahnübergang,_StVO_DDR_1964.svg ). Replacing this existing diagram posed problems because first, the old signs would remain in place; and second, other countries used (and continue to use) the "steam" version of this sign, and Germany, being in the centre of Western Europe, has a lot of transit traffic on its road network, so whatever the new one was, it had to be compatible with the other, older ones.

          As a result, one of the concerns when drawing the new one was that it should not depart significantly from the dark-light patterning of the old-style "steam train" version when viewed from a distance. This is why the train curls rather than being shown side-on or head-on (which is the norm for pedestrian signs directing people to trains): a side-on view of a modern train would look too similar to the existing "trams sharing the road" sign, and a head-on version would be sufficiently different to not be recognisable at distance to drivers who are familiar with the old sign.

          If you squint at the new version, and imagine a steam-train you should hopefully see that the roof and pantograph of the train form an area that could be considered the "smoke", and the view of the carriages curling behind look somewhat like the rear standing area a steam engine (I know nearly nothing about steam-trains, so those are definitely the wrong terms).

          It's not identical, of course, but it still suggests the outline and pattern of the old version when seen at a distance in peripheral vision, and that was one of the goals for the new design: A driver who's familiar with the old sign will recognise the new one at distance as being "like" the old one. When they get closer, it'll look like a modern train, but the most important part of road signage is the recognition at distance.

  18. Bill M

    Flat Earth Society

    It is a Flat Ball so it is geometrically correct.

    If you are unsure then any member of the Flat Earth Society can explain it to you.

    Flat Balls do behave geometrically differently to Round Balls. They also have different physical properties, not least that they do not bounce - one of the reasons why Flat Football never became popular.

    1. Haku
      Coat

      Re: Flat Earth Society

      Flat Balls are more popular than you might think, I've seen plenty of people with Flat Balls, throwing them to each other at parks & fields...

      1. Bill M

        Re: Flat Earth Society

        You are certainly correct there, but I am sure you have noticed these Flat Balls they throw around do not bounce, nor behave well when kicked.

        Maybe with Flat Football the players could simply kick each other instead of the Flat Ball. This could prove popular with a certain niche of footballers and fans.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Flat Earth Society

          Do you need flat feet to play flatball?

        2. Mephistro Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Flat Earth Society

          "Maybe with Flat Football the players could simply kick each other instead of the Flat Ball."

          That's an sport I'd gladly pay to watch!

          And at the end of the match, there'd be several "flattened balls". Sports + Darwinism, what's there not to like?

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: Flat Earth Society

            "Maybe with Flat Football the players could simply kick each other instead of the Flat Ball."

            That's an sport I'd gladly pay to watch!

            Ah, Brockian Ultra Cricket then...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Further inaccuracies

    Rather than being shown walking erect, should not the footballer next to the football be depicted in the more usual "Rolling on the ground clutching uninjured ankle" position ?

    ( Getting my rugby shirt...)

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Further inaccuracies

      ...or the other well-recognised pose, "in hotel room with team-mate's wife".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Further inaccuracies

      That's not a footballer, that's a pedestrian/supporter.

      I'm sure there are a number of symbols that could be used for the stereotypical football 'supporter'.

    3. Bill M

      Re: Further inaccuracies

      .... and the ball is as big as the footballer.

      If you kicked a ball that size you would most likely end up with an injured ankle so maybe the man should be depicted as "Rolling on the ground clutching injured ankle" position

    4. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Further inaccuracies

      I've noticed that footballers actually tend to hold their shinpads, which is even more amusing.

      For comparison on Saturday playing rugby I acquired a foot long bruise up my arm ( with accompanying stud marks ) - that warranted a bout of profanity and a series of menacing glances looking for the culprit.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Further inaccuracies

        That's what happens when you lie on the wrong side of a ruck.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: Further inaccuracies

          I took the ball in so I was at the bottom of the ruck. It later transpired that it was my (very large) teammate who was rucking over, which at the time seemed like a stamping motion.

  20. Jim 59

    For the same reason that cartoons have only 3 fingers and a thumb, many roadsigns are not accurate representations, nor should they be. They are designed for quick comprehension and no more. If Matt Parker can design a pentagonal ball which is also clearer and quicker to recognose than the current model, I'll sign his petition.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Google 'football icon' and be prepared to be amazed!

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      I had never noticed it was wrong but I can't sign the petition. Looking at in detail it has great aesthetics, exceeding anything a more factually correct representation would have. Well done whoever came up with that design.

      I hope Matt Parker never spots an all-meshed three gear logo :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      trivia

      cartoons have only 3 fingers and a thumb

      A possibly interesting bit of trivia is that Bugs Bunny usually has 3 fingers + thumb, except in a scene from the Rabbit of Seville parody of Rossini's opera, when at one point he plays a piano tune on Elmer Fudd's head and briefly has the customary 4 fingers + thumb so that the piano playing works...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: trivia

        "and briefly has the customary 4 fingers + thumb "

        That's because it would upset Japanese audiences to see a Yakuza playing a piano.

  21. earl grey Silver badge
    Devil

    i have to ask

    why were they done wrong in the first place?

  22. wolfetone Silver badge

    Only in England eh?

    Thank God.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      is that because Scotland and Wales don't know what football is ?

      Disclaimer: I find football an extremely dull sport, where 80% of the time most of the team are doing bugger all.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        bugger all.

        or rugger ball. Makes no odds to me!

      2. Adam 52 Silver badge

        "where 80% of the time most of the team are doing bugger all."

        You should as watch a live game. TV tends to hide what the rest of the team are doing.

  23. ekithump

    He's complaining about the ball being incorrect, but ignoring the fact that the pedestrian appears to be swinging left arm and left leg forward at the same time.

    If you're going to be pedantic, do it properly!

    1. John Mangan

      But you can walk like that. It is not impossible in the same sense as the purely hexagonal-panelled football.

      Pedantry slam.

  24. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Appropriate in one case.

    Surely the hexagonal honeycomb structure is indicative of bees, and is therefore appropriate signage for Brentford Football Club.

  25. rmason Silver badge

    Nope.

    I'm afraid that I am firmly in the "we have more pressing things to spend public cash on" camp.

    Waste of time and money, and incredibly easy to get over/ignore.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Nope.

      Waste of time/money?

      Correcting a document published by government should not take a huge amount of money.

      It doesn't need to go through the overpaid airbags in parliament, it can be entirely handled by one or two people at the relevant agency in about an hour.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Nope.

        Then, you have to pay to go out and correct all the signs...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Nope.

          "Then, you have to pay to go out and correct all the signs..."

          Nah, you just use the new signs when replacing old ones. There are still legal road signs, especially in rural areas, that date back make many decades, pre-WWII at least.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Nope.

          Then, you have to pay to go out and correct all the signs...

          Try reading the article before heading straight to the comments section. Specifically the last paragraph:

          He wants the current symbol 38, denoting footballs on traffic signs, to be updated so that future street signs are done correctly. "I appreciate updating all the old ones might be considered a misuse of taxpayers' funds," he said.

  26. nijam

    What's actually a national embarrassment is that anyone cares about football that much.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Arguably, the picture on the sign should be of a wallet having the cash removed from it, as this much better represents the purpose of the football industry. The ball itself is purely incidental at this point.

  27. King Jack
    Childcatcher

    Bollox

    They complain about the ball sign but nobody has come up with a fixed dimension of a football pitch. Stupid game...

  28. JacobZ
    Boffin

    Perfectly possible

    Perfectly possible to have a ball made only of hexagons, all you need is a non-Euclidean space. If I remember my college math correctly, a positively curved space in the vicinity of the ball should do the trick.

  29. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    I remember this controversy...

    ...when they changed to the current road signs:-

    http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02692/Slippery-Road-sign_2692800c.jpg

  30. Sinical

    Traffic Signs

    At least the impossible football is not particularly dangerous, except to mathematicians in the vicinity of football grounds. The truly dangerous one is the round one which appears to show Evil Kineval jumping a car. What that has to do with "No Motor Vehicles" is beyond me. I've lost count of the number of times I've carried on driving looking up and anticipating getting a good view of a stunt show, oblivious to the pedestrians diving for cover.

    Signed, natch.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Traffic Signs

      How about the one that wants red cars to drive next to black ones? What about all the colours?

  31. Wilseus

    A national embarassment

    Rather like our national football team then.

  32. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    But but but...

    ... if they used hexagons and pentagons wouldn't the sign curl up?

    1. Wilseus

      Re: But but but...

      Could a football entirely made of hexagons exist in hyperbolic space?

  33. heyrick Silver badge

    Uh, guys...

    If you want mathematically/logically impossible, you want the slippery road sign.

    https://assets.digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk/media/55b76bec40f0b6790f000019/warning-sign-slippery-road.jpg

    1. CentralCoasty

      Re: Uh, guys...

      Isnt that an Austin A30? Or an A35?

      Reminds me of the tracks my Mum left when she learnt to drive in her old A30...... and it sure looks like one from behind.....

      1. Pedigree-Pete
        Happy

        Re: Uh, guys...

        Oi! Don't dis the A30. I learnt to drive in one of those. PP

  34. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Actually, you can make a soccer ball out of all hexagons...

    Bear with me on this...

    http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/solid/buckynet.gif

    Remove those pentagons from the template and sew it up around a spherical ball. Granted, the holes will be pentagonal and the ball itself prone to bursting due to the inner bladder being exposed, but still...

  35. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Joke

    What's the fuss?

    It's a sign to a Stadium, with an icon of a discus decorated with a hexagonal pattern. They used to use the icon for the relay, but it got confused with the line dancing icon.

  36. Archaon
    Stop

    Really?

    They can find plenty of this sort of project by themselves, they don't need our help to spend money on useless shit.

  37. Chris 239
    Black Helicopters

    Anyway if you have to follow that sign to the stadium on foot you'll probably miss the tosspots chasing the pig bladder - 2 1/4 miles? that's miles away!

    Icon for the police helicopter required to keep an eye on the football fans.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's because the sign is flat...

    ...so they had to use a honeycomb pattern instead of a (3-dimensional) truncated icosahedron. It was tough.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry, but this is not "Mathematically Impossible"

    It is obviously a sphere with a pre-distorted image of hexagons projected onto it.

  40. TRT Silver badge

    Response

    The Government considers the current football symbol has a clear meaning and is understood by the public. Changing the design to show accurate geometry is not appropriate in this context.

    The Department for Transport sets legislation on traffic signs for use by traffic authorities. The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 (TSRGD) sets out the design and conditions of use for traffic signs that may be used on roads in England, Scotland and Wales.

    Traffic signs use symbols which enable drivers to take in the information quickly and understand the meaning of the sign. Symbols are often internationally recognised which is important for all road users, especially those who may be unfamiliar to the area.

    In the case of a directional sign to a leisure facility (such as a football ground), the symbols used are a general representation of the activity being depicted. As such, drivers can then quickly understand the type of destination. The football ground symbol first appeared in TSRGD in 1994 and road users have become accustomed to its use.

    The purpose of traffic signs is to “convey warnings, information, requirements, restrictions or prohibitions” (Section 64 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984).

    The Department for Transport commissioned research into road user’s understanding of traffic signs in 2011. This concluded that respondents “showed a good basic level of understanding as to what different types of sign meant” and recommended that signs should be kept simple.

    The purpose of a traffic sign is not to raise public appreciation and awareness of geometry which is better dealt with in other ways. If the correct geometry were put onto a sign, it would only be visible close up and not from the distance at which drivers will see the sign. The detail of the geometry would also not be taken in by most drivers who were merely looking at the sign for direction. The higher level of attention needed to understand the geometry could distract a driver’s view away from the road for longer than necessary which could therefore increase the risk of an incident.

    Additionally the public funding required to change every football sign nationally would place an unreasonable financial burden on local authorities. The Department could not justify the spending needed as an exercise to increase public awareness and appreciation of geometry.

    For the reasons given, we will not be changing the football symbol used on a traffic sign.

    Department for Transport

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