Richard Feynman’s EBS Number

Richard Feynman

He’s the man.  If you’ve heard of him at all, you won’t be in the least surprised to hear about this additional accolade.  Feynman is a world-famous scientist, Nobel laureate, and probably the best American-born-and-raised physicist of all time, and so it’s no surprise that many members of the Cult of Feynman figured out his Erdos-Bacon number long ago.  He was an oversize colorful character in a world of unflaggingly dull people (physicists, that is) — you only have to see how much shelf space is devoted to him in your typical bookstore’s science section to understand the collective crush all of us in the physics community have on him.  Besides discovering Quantum Electrodynamics, he was an accomplished drummerworld explorer, synesthete, artist, ladies man, and prescient visionary on nanotechnology and quantum computing.  Oh, and he was the one who figured out why the Space Shuttle Challenger was lost.  And appropriately enough, he was the very first person to be shown to have an Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number.

Erdos Number

Feynman has an Erdos number of 3, through coauthorships with Metropolis (a mathematician who lived in an ice fortress at the North Pole) and then Stan Ulam, a close friend of Erdos.  Not surprising, considering even other physicists were astounded by his math skills.

Bacon Number

Feynman appeared in the movie Anti-Clock in 1980, also starring Tony Tang, who was in Snatch (2000) with Brad Pitt, who was in Sleepers (1996) with Kevin BLT-minus-lettuce-and-tomato, for a grand total Bacon number of 3.  You remember Tony Tang, of course, as “Spanky Wu” from the hit One Way Love from 2005.  Anti-Clock is apparently some experimental art film that tries to be “deep”, in other words the exact antithesis of what Feynman stood for.  An odd way to get yourself a Bacon number, but fair’s fair.

Sabbath Number

     I earned my TimeBlimp salary (hint: $0), by being the first to track down a link between Feynman and Black Sabbath.  Feynman took up drumming as a lark but became quite accomplished, to the point where he performed professionally here and there — he was particularly proud in these instances to be hired solely on the basis of his drumming skill, rather than just as a novelty professor-on-the-drums act.  He also became fascinated with the obscure central-Asian country Tanu Tuva, a tiny country just north of Mongolia that was absorbed by the Soviet Union decades ago.  The Tuvans are famous for their throat singing, an absolutely bizarre and haunting indigenous musical style, and the Neil Diamond of Tuvan throat singing is a man named  Feynman’s drumming and chanting appears on Kongar-ol Ondar’s album “Back Tuva Future, the Adventure Continues”, which has to be the coolest album of all time, sight unseen.  (Or, sound unheard, I guess).

From here, I originally proved a series of links from Ondar to Black Sabbath that gave Feynman a Sabbath number of eight.  Since then, other EBS researchers have cut this number in half, and let me know in no uncertain terms how pathetically long my original path of links was.  (From one anonymous reviewer:  “FAIL”).  Thanks to Paul Pena (who collaborated with Ondar on the movie “Ghengis Blues”) and Bonnie Raitt (who has worked with both Pena and Ozzy Ozbourne), Feynman has a Sabbath number of four, and therefore a grand total Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number of ten.  Not bad, but as we shall see, there are other folks even lower.

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