News & Current Affairs

August 30, 2008

Website maps surnames worldwide

Website maps surnames worldwide

David Beckham

There are more Beckhams in the United States than Britain

A website which maps global surnames has been launched to help people find the origins of their name and how far it may have spread.

The Public Profiler site plots eight million last names using data from electoral rolls and phone directories.

The site covers 300 million people in 26 countries, showing the origins of names and where families have moved to.

David Beckham, for example, has an English name, but there are more Beckhams in the US than Britain.

But the region of the world with the highest concentration of people called Beckham was even further from the footballer’s east London origins – in the New Zealand province of Northland.

The site – http://www.publicprofiler.org/worldnames – also reveals which of the five million forenames are most closely associated with different surnames and lists the top regions and cities for each surname.

A name is now not just a statement of who you are but where you are
Professor Paul Longley

It was developed by a team of geographers from University College London.

Professor Paul Longley, one of the researchers, said: “The information is not just historical but geographical.

“We can link names to places – a name is now not just a statement of who you are but where you are.”

Most surnames originated in specific places in the world and remain most frequent in those areas, but have often spread to other countries because of migration, the research showed.

Searches for Britain’s three multi-gold medallists at the recent Olympics and the leaders of the three main political parties revealed some mixed results.

• Swimmer Rebecca Adlington’s surname is most prevalent in New Zealand

• Cyclist Chris Hoy’s surname is Irish but more common in Denmark

• Cyclist Bradley Wiggins’s surname is most popular in the US

• Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s surname tops the list in Australia

• Conservative leader David Cameron’s surname is most prevalent in New Zealand

• Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s surname is still most common in Britain

Prof Longley said that the site was currently struggling to cope with demand.

“We are being deluged with requests and we ask people to be patient. There is obviously a lot of interest in family names and family history globally,” he said.

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August 17, 2008

Phelps wins historic eighth gold

Phelps wins historic eighth gold

Michael Phelps won his eighth Olympic gold medal of the Beijing Games to beat Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of seven, with victory in the 4x100m medley.

The 23-year-old teamed up with Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen and Jason Lezak to claim the historic gold in a new world record time.

They held off Australia and Japan to win in a world record time of three minutes 29.34 seconds.

Britain finished in sixth, but the race was all about Phelps’ place in history.

Phelps, who swam 17 times over nine days and set world records in seven finals, had already won the 400m medley, 200m freestyle, 200m butterfly, 4x100m free relay, 4x200m free relay, 200m medley and the 100m butterfly.

With so many people saying it couldn’t be done, all it takes is an imagination
Michael Phelps

Victory in the 4x100m relay rounded off a remarkable Olympics for Phelps, who has dominated the action in the Water Cube.

However, his final triumph was far from straightforward.

Phelps dived into the water for the third leg butterfly with his team in third position but he powered them into the lead.

Australian Eamon Sullivan tried to chase the Americans down but Lezak held on to clinch Phelps’ record win.

It also took Phelps’ Olympic medal haul to 14 golds, and 16 overall.

Phelps admitted to being overwhelmed after achieving his feat, and was quick to pay tribute to his team-mates.

“I don’t even know what to feel right now,” Phelps said.

“There are so many emotions going through my head and so much excitement. I kind of just want to see my mom.

“Without the help of my team-mates this isn’t possible.

“I was able to be a part of three relays and we were able to put up a solid team effort and we came together as one unit.

“For the three Olympics I’ve been a part of, this is by far the closest men’s team that we’ve ever had.

“I didn’t know everybody coming into this Olympics, but I feel going out I know every single person very well. The team that we had is the difference.

“Nothing is impossible.

“With so many people saying it couldn’t be done, all it takes is an imagination, and that’s something I learned and something that helped me.

“It’s been nothing but an upwards roller-coaster and it’s been nothing but fun.”

His team-mate Peirsol added: “It’s a beautiful thing, I am so proud to be a part of this relay team.

“It wasn’t like we were doing this for Michael, but it’s an honor to be part of it. It would have been something if we hadn’t done it.”

Australian swimmer Grant Hackett said: “Michael Phelps – you can’t put it in words what he has done here, his level of achievement is phenomenal and I don’t think it will ever be seen again.”

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