Google Adds A “Bacon Number” Search

I really don’t use Wikipedia very often as a source because some of the articles are inaccurate either accidentally or through deliberate misinformation. However, I’m going to use a few links from Wikipedia here, for the simple reason that nothing in this post really matters.

Most of us have heard of the phrase “six degrees of separation

Six degrees of separation is the idea that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.   If you take a person here in Fort Collins and a randomly chosen person in Salt Lake City, you would need at most five intermediaries to connect them!

The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called “Chains.”   In the 1950′s, Ithiel de Sola Pool (MIT) and Manfred Kochen (IBM) set out to prove the theory mathematically.   Although they were able to phrase the question (given a set N of people, what is the probability that each member of N is connected to another member via 1, 2, 3…n links?), they were still unable to solve the problem after twenty years of trying. In 1967, American sociologist Stanley Milgram devised a new way to test the theory, which he called “the small-world problem.”

In 1994, as a somewhat of a joke, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon was born.

Kevin Bacon

In a January 1994 Premiere magazine interview about the film The River Wild, Kevin Bacon commented that he had worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who’s worked with them.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon first surfaced at about the same time. On April 7, 1994, a lengthy newsgroup thread headed “Kevin Bacon is the Center of the Universe” appeared.[1]

The game was created in early 1994 by three Albright College students, Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, and Mike Ginelli. According to an interview with the three in the spring 1999 issue of the college’s magazine, The Albright Reporter, they were watching Footloose during a heavy snowstorm. When the film was followed by The Air Up There, they began to speculate on how many movies Bacon had been in and the number of people he had worked with.

The resulting connection has become known as the ‘Bacon number’. Now Google has added a “Bacon number’ component to its search functionality. Type ‘bacon number’ into the search box followed by the name of any actor and the result will return both the number and the connection. For example Nicholas Cage returns the following:

Nicolas Cage’s Bacon number is 2
Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue appeared in Leaving Las Vegas.
Elisabeth Shue and Kevin Bacon appeared in Hollow Man.

Going back in time:

Johnny Weissmuller’s Bacon number is 3
Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan appeared in Tarzan the Ape Man.
Maureen O’Sullivan and Dianne Wiest appeared in Hannah and Her Sisters.
Dianne Wiest and Kevin Bacon appeared in Footloose.

So now, the game is to find actors who have no Bacon number. I think the answer is to use actors from extremely low budget films with no connection to any others. Phil Caracas, the star who played Jesus Christ in the classic Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter does not show us in the search.
The search is not perfect as Caracas played in Reawakening with Douglas Kidd who guest starred in The Border with James McGowan, who has a bacon number of 2

James McGowan and Mike O’Malley appeared in The Perfect Man.
Mike O’Malley and Kevin Bacon appeared in R.I.P.D.

Caracas’ actual bacon number is 5

The perfect time waster.

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