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Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Proved Globally Via Text Messages

Hey, don't I know you from somewhere? According to this new study, chances are, yes. Using records of 30 billion electronic conversations from 180 million people the world over, researchers have concluded that on average, any two people are only separated by 6.6 degrees of separation — meaning they could be linked together by seven acquaintances.

Kevin Bacon eat your heart out.

The researchers say, "to our knowledge, this is the first time a planetary-scale social network has been available to validate the well-known '6 degrees of separation' finding by Travers and Milgram." Within the study two people were dubbed acquaintances if they had zapped one another a text message. They then calculated the minimum chain lengths it would take to connect 180 billion different pairs of users in the database, finding it to be 6.6 hops.

Is it a small world after all? To see the study that started the six-degrees game,


In 1969 researchers Milgram and Travers set out to find how well people knew each other by asking almost 300 people in Boston and Nebraska to get a letter to a Boston stockbroker by sending it through acquaintances. Though only 64 of the 300 letters made it to their target, with the average number of stops pegged at 6.2.

The text message study was the first concrete global test of the theory, and it's perhaps heartening — that even in a text message vs. knock-on-your-neighbor's-door world, we're not so separate after all.

Want to kiss the rest of your Saturday goodbye? Play the Oracle of Bacon where you can type in any actor's name and get his "Bacon" number. Seth Rogen, incidentally, is a two.


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