Bacon number: Google turns the party game into a new Easter egg
This week Google rolled out Bacon number, another fun feature that's sure to turn a lot of otherwise productive afternoons into time sinkholes. If you've ever wanted to automate the party game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," Google's got your back.
Sure, Google search was useful before -- you could use it to find out the weather, movie times, word definitions, and information on just about any topic. But this week Google introduced a feature that's nothing less than a revolution in search: Bacon number.
Okay, maybe "revolution" isn't quite the word we were looking for.
Google can now automate the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" party game, which challenges players to trace any actor back to the "Footloose" star. Tom Hanks, for example, has a Bacon number of 1 (he and Bacon were in "Apollo 13" together). Zoë Saldana has a Bacon number of 2 (she was in "The Losers" with Jason Patric, who was in "Sleepers" with Bacon). And so on. To try the feature, just type "Bacon number" followed by any celebrity's name into the Google search bar.
To perform this feat, Google draws upon its Knowledge Graph -- a web of public figures, countries, famous landmarks, sports teams, and other entities and the connections between them. Google says the Knowledge Graph contains about 500 million objects, which apparently includes most actors and their filmographies. When you query an actor (or any public figure, for that matter) Google tries to trace the connections through its Knowledge Graph to arrive back at Kevin Bacon.
Apparently the Knowledge Graph has a few blind spots, though -- New York Magazine notes that it doesn't return a Bacon number for many public figures, including Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who had cameo parts in "The Dark Knight" and "The Dark Knight Rises." (The venerable Oracle of Bacon, a site which draws its information from IMDb, informs us that Senator Leahy is two degrees removed from Kevin Bacon.)
Google does tell us the Bacon number for some non-actor public figures. Barack Obama's Bacon number is 2. So is Bill Clinton's (although Hillary doesn't seem to have one). BuzzFeed points out that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has a Bacon number of 3, and New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has a Bacon number of 4. As far as we can tell, no one on the Christian Science Monitor's staff has a Bacon number.
Readers, what do you think of Google's Bacon number generator? Have you found any celebrities with unexpected Bacon numbers? Let us know in the comments section below.
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