Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to (& some separation anxiety about) . . .

Kevin Bacon who was born on this day in 1958 in Philadelphia, PA. (Click on his name to go to his IMDB [Internet Movie Database] page to learn more about him and his career.

Now, you may have heard of the phrase Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon which is a trivia game based on the concept of the small world phenomenon and assumes that any actor can be linked through his or her film roles to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps.

(More PA trivia: This game was created by three students at Albright College in Reading, PA back in 1994. Check it out here: The Kevin Bacon Game.)

Why should we care about the concept of six degrees of separation? A "degree of separation" is a measure of social distance between people. You are one degree away from everyone you know, two degrees away from everyone they know, and so on.

Because Stanley Milgram's experiments back in 1967 suggested that human society is a small world type network characterized by short path lengths and mirrors what we know today as the World Wide Web. (A Microsoft study done in 2008 confirmed the theory.)

It really is a small world after all.

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