'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' Gets Google Makeover

The game goes high tech with the search giant's new built-in Bacon number calculator.
The game goes high tech with the search giant's new built-in Bacon number calculator.

Google has given "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" a high-tech makeover.  

The brilliant minds at the search giant have automated the popular game.  

Type in "Bacon number" and the name of any given celebrity and — bam! — you'll see how closely they are related to the actor who has 74 credits spanning from 1978's Animal House to the forthcoming R.I.P.D

The idea comes from the widely popular premise of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," which is a play on the idea that everyone is connected to any other person through at most other six people.  

In fact, the premise was so popular that it catalyzed a pop-cultural phenomenon — a play, movie and many drinking games quickly followed suit.

Yossi Matias, the Engineering Director and Head of the Israeli Engrineering Center describes the motivation behind this project, this new take on the separation premise, as finding the deeply rooted connections between people, specifically through collaborations within the film industry--and as a way to demonstrate the power of Google's search engine. 

"If you think about search in the traditional sense, for years it has been to try and match, find pages and sources where you would find the text,"  Mattias said.  

Most Bacon numbers are actually quite low.  

Ryan Gosling' Bacon number is just one, Barack Obama's is  two and Al Jolson — who starred in 1927's The Jazz Singer, popularly dubbed as "the first talkie" and whose last acting credit was in 1939— has a Bacon number of just three.

 "It's interesting that this small-world phenomena when applied to the world of actors actually shows that in most cases, most actors aren't that far apart from each other," Matias said. "And most of them have a relatively small Bacon number." 

So what does Bacon himself have to say about this new feature? Matias hasn't spoken with him, but if "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" is true after all, we're sure he'll hear about it soon. 




  • C. Molly Smith