Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon

This is a game, whose title is a Mondegreen of Six Degrees of Separation, in which it is said that any individual can be linked through his or her film roles to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps. For example, George Clooney was in Oceans Eleven with Matt Damon, Matt Damon was in The Departed with Jack Nicholson, and Jack Nicholson was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon. It should be noted that this spreads across all actors; Megumi Hayashibara can be linked to Kevin in only two moves note . It's often a game for film nerds to test the abilities of each other.

There is a whole website, The Oracle of Bacon, dedicated to this found here.

Mathematicians have extrapolated this phenomenon and given it a name: "Bacon Number", which sounds like one of those impossibly high numbers with dangerous implications for the future of the universe but is in fact incredibly low. Researchers have demonstrated (true story!) that almost everyone has a Bacon Number < 10, due to Kevin Bacon appearing in, mathematically speaking, almost every film on the planet. For instance, Kevin Bacon himself has a Bacon Number of 0. Chew on that, Mr T! (The Oracle of Bacon claims that three persons on the IMDb have Bacon Numbers of 9, the highest listed, but does not say who they are.)

Curiously, the most connected person in acting is not Kevin Bacon. Research by people who found it important enough to do so discovered that the centre of the Hollywood universe shifts over time, and currently rests with the late Dennis Hopper, followed by Harvey Keitel and Donald Sutherland.

Scientists also have a similar ranking called the Erdős Number, based on co-authorship of mathematical articles with deceased mathematician Paul Erdős. Inevitably there's a combination, the Erdős-Bacon number, based on adding the two together. Thanks to the documentaries, and occasional extra work on math-related films, some mathematicians have EB numbers as low as 3. More surprising are actors who attack the problem from the other side. Danica McKellar (Winnie from The Wonder Years and bona-fide mathematician) and Natalie Portman (wrote a psychology paper at Harvard with an Erdős link) each have Erdős-Bacon numbers of 6. (This ties them with Richard Feynman.)

There is also now the Sabbath Number, based on how many collaborations it takes to get from a given musician to Black Sabbath. And, of course, musicians who've appeared in films have Sabbath-Bacon numbers, and a surprising number of math-geeks turned musos have Sabbath-Erdős numbers. And then there's the Sabbath-Bacon-Erdős number. The only person known to have a single-figure Sabbath-Bacon-Erdős number is physicist, The Simpsons guest star, and Pink Floyd guest vocalist Stephen Hawking.

Ironically, Kevin Bacon did not have anything at all to do with the movie Six Degrees of Separation. note 

For applications in fiction, see One Degree of Separation.

No relation to Bacon Addiction.

Alternative Title(s):

Degrees Of Kevin Bacon, Bacon Number