(Less than) Six Degrees of Separation

Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy (1887 – 1938) is recorded in 1929 as being the first person to remark on the shrinking of the modern world and how this might mean any two people can be linked through no more than five acquaintances.

65 years later, and after 33 recorded screen appearances, students at Albright College, Pennsylvania, noticed that Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon had worked with a staggering amount of people and used him to illustrate this small world theory in the beautifully conceived game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. The rebranded theory, having gained a massive popularity boost, became more accessible in the form of a website devised at the University of Virginia where the “Oracle of Bacon” helped people calculate the “Bacon Number” of any other actors they chose. If Karinthy is to be believed it should be possible to link anyone on the planet to Bacon. All we need to do is know an actor, or someone in the film industry. Or in my case an ex-member of the entertainment industry, my Bacon Number is 4:

1. I worked on Doctors with Christopher Timothy.
2. Christopher Timothy worked on All Creatures Great and Small with Robert Hardy.
3. Robert Hardy worked on Frankenstien with Robert DeNiro.
4. Robert DeNiro worked on Sleepers with Kevin Bacon.

Easy. Actually I’m more pleased that I’m only three steps away from DeNiro. And of course being that Robert Hardy has been a staple of the supporting cast in 4 Harry Potter movies I’m probably connected to all sorts of weird and wonderful folk. We can call Hardy a “node”, or connection point.

Another “node” revealed themselves to me as such the other day, without realising it, through the wonderful medium of Facebook. Whilst flicking idly through the contacts of one of my “better connected” friends on Facebook I found to my amusement that they’re friends with one Piers Morgan. Yes, that Piers Morgan.

I’m not a huge fan of the man but it goes without saying that he has an enormous amount of “friends” on the site (let’s refer to them as acquaintances to support Karinthy’s theory) and, being as this is what got me thinking about the whole Six Degrees of Separation thing in the first place, I couldn’t help having a cheeky look at PM’s friends. If there was anyone particularly notable or infamous it would mean they would be a simple three steps away from me.

Names thrown up in a cursory look down the list included a bewildering array of folk, some of which were terrifying to behold; James Murdoch; Jeremy Clarkson; Jimmy Carr; Paul McKenna. Others less so; Krishnan Guru-Murthy; Rageh Omaar; Sarah Brown; Yoko Ono (yes those were in alphabetical order and, no I don’t believe I’ll try and befriend them as it’d be a bit weird).

Because you’re reading this and you know me, all you need to do is add 1 for your Bacon Number (or Clarkson Number if that’s your thing) and you’ll know how many steps away you are. Of course the way this whole thing works, you may be part of an alternate more immediate chain linking to you to any of the people referenced above; one that doesn’t involve me at all. That’s the beauty of the theory. If you aren’t aware of any other route then it’s good to know that in my own small way, and without having any control over it, I have become a node myself.