3 degrees to Kevin Bacon
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
There are approximately 6,379,157,361 living humans on earth. A remarkable fact that we are all connected somehow, comes as a shock to some.
We've all heard about "6 degrees of separation," haven't we? And it's hard to imagine that it takes up to 6 "degrees" to be connected to anyone in the world - Anyone - Even Kevin Bacon.
Anything with numbers in it is part of mathematics and this type of "connectedness" is right up Graph Theory's alley. Mathworld
has this to say about this type of phenomenon:
Taking a connected graph or network with a high graph diameter and adding a very small number of edges randomly, the diameter tends to drop drastically. This is known as the small world phenomenon. It is sometimes also know as "six degrees of separation" since, in the social network of the world, any person turns out to be linked to any other person by roughly six connections.
In modern mathematics, the center of the network of coauthorship is considered to be P. Erdos, resulting in the so-called Erdos number. In movies, Kevin Bacon is often mentioned as the center of the movie universe, but a recent study has shown Christopher Lee (Reynolds) to be the actual center. Both actors have co-starred with Julius LeFlore, so the Lee-Bacon distance is two.
I don't have an Erdos number, as I don't do Mathematical research, however, I do have a Kevin Bacon degree: 3.
I'm connected to Bacon via Kristin Booth
, who worked with Paul Brogren
in a movie called Detroit Rock City (1999)
; and Brogren was in Cavedweller (2004) with Kevin Bacon
We are all connected - What's your Bacon degree?
I know (well, I don't really know her nor remember much of her) Kristen from high school - We went to the same high school - I think she was in grade 11 or 12 when I graduated from grade 13 (OAC) and I do recall saying hi to her once or twice. I also remember she was in a few school plays - I don't believe I saw any of them, nor have seen any of her later work.
I don't follow any of the Hollywood silliness, and my point is not to bring to light my Bacon number (It's irrelevant who the other person is), but the connectedness of human beings: we are closer than we think or would like to be.Silly FactsBooth's name is actually Kristen, however, I've seen her name misspelled all the time as Kristin. I think she gave up and she now goes with Kristin - I don't know anything about marketing actors, however, it has to be frustrating correcting executives who probably ask: "Who is Kristen Booth?"
An interesting fact about Graph Theory is that is has been categorized in the field of Operations Research and Combinatorics and Optimization - Well, that's not the interesting part - The interesting part is that most of the research on OR came about from the need of our advanced societies to wage war, more effectively and efficiently, against each other. I.e. During WWII British and US researchers "looked for ways to make better decisions in such areas as logistics and training schedules."
Most military research makes its way into the everyday life: ARPANET, Satellite TV, RSA, 4x4s, swiss army knifes - I'm sure I missed some.
A popular book that is "claimed" to have something to do with this area of "connectedness" is The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference - It doesn't. I bought the book as the subject sounds interesting and it has been going around the bloggosphere. I don't recommend it - It's a dummyfied collection of newspaper articles (it feels that way) of anecdotes and musings about a couple examples where something became a fad overnight (Shoes, for example) - It doesn't actually dissect how "it" became a fad or what made it tip, is just goes back in time and tells you what it was - Hindsight is 20/20, after all.
There is common misconception about degrees of separation. It is not a 'maximum' of 6 degrees between anyone on earth, it is an 'average'. The maximum has been calculated to be somewhere between 30 and 32 degrees.