The Small World Phenomenon predicts that we are less than six handshakes from anyone in the world. By examining this peculiarity, this documentary will track down Kevin Bacon and colleagues of Paul Erdős in order to explore connectivity and to set the world record for the lowest Erdős-Bacon number.
Our documentary explores the Small World Phenomenon and connected networks through two lenses: a mathematical lens and the Hollywood lens. We have begun to explore all sides of this phenomenon, from the deep, global implications of networks to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – a game which traces actors to Kevin Bacon by film credits. Conceived in the early 90s by three college students -- Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, and Mike Ginelli -- they first shared the game with the world on The Jon Stewart Show. A series of media appearances, a book deal, a board game, and a VH1 show followed. It became and still is a staple of pop culture.
However, the math world had been playing the same game for several years. The Erdős Number placed the eccentric and brilliant mathematician Paul Erdős – a prolific academic who has collaborated and published more papers than anybody – at the center of the math universe. Those who published a paper with Erdős received an Erdős Number of 1. Those who published a paper with somebody who published a paper with Erdős receive an Erdős Number of 2, and so on.
Our world is not simply a single network, but rather a multitude of networks joined to other networks. Because of this, it’s no surprise that the Erdős Number and Bacon Number have culturally collided to form The Erdős-Bacon Number. Only a lucky few have obtained such prestige – as being both a published academic and an actor is quite rare. Among them, Natalie Portman, Danica McKellar, Carl Sagan, and the best thus far: Barnard Professor Dave Bayer with an Erdős-Bacon number of 3. People have made, located, and written extensive documentation on those with low Erdős-Bacon numbers, which are officially listed on Wikipedia.
Our documentary will account the cultural obsession with the Erdős-Bacon metric and explore how two seemingly distant networks can, in fact, affect one another in a major way.