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55 Ways to Have Fun With Google. Go to Table of Contents. Visit Gifcom.

19. Kevin Bacon and the Google Network

You probably heard of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. The objective is to find a way to get from any actor to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less. For example, Sean Connery has a Bacon number of 2 (Sean Connery was in Wrong Is Right with Myron Natwick, who was in Cavedweller with Kevin Bacon). That’s possible because Kevin Bacon stars in a whole lot of movies. But is he really the center of Hollywood?

I tried to find out if Kevin Bacon’s network is indeed as dense as the Six Degrees game suggests. And of course, I used Google for that. Here’s what I did, and you can try the same; I picked a list of 50 random famous actors, including Kevin Bacon, and searched Google trying to find out if any two of the actors on the list were in a movie together. Of course, this isn’t statistical correct proof. But it’s fun. Here’s an example of a search query:

“Sean Connery and Julia Roberts” OR “Julia Roberts and Sean Connery” -degrees

This will return all pages with either the first or second phrase in them. (I exclude pages with the word “degrees” because I don’t want to hit on pages where people played the Six Degrees game, as that would give Kevin Bacon an unfair advantage.) Whenever over 500 results have been found, I will count this as a “hit.”

The following map shows all hits combined into a social network1. Some actors of the 50 I included in the game actually didn’t make the list because they had no connection at all – like Humphrey Bogart.