Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath Numbers: The People at the Center of the Universe
Years ago, I invented a little game called Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath numbers, which is probably, oh, halfway down the list of nerdiest things I’ve ever done. In a nutshell, it combines Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (which you’ve probably heard of) with Erdos Numbers (which maybe rings a bell, if you’re a mathematician) and Sabbath Numbers (same deal, with the band Black Sabbath). If you’ve been in a movie you probably have a Bacon Number, if you’ve coauthored a research publication you likely have an Erdos number, and if you’ve gigged as a professional musician you might have a Sabbath Number. If you have all three, you are a CERTIFIED BADASS, and are on the highly exclusive list of people with an Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number!
I invented the Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath Number concept back in 1906 in my spare time, but the idea didn’t really take off until the birth of Kevin Bacon in 1958. More recently, Ross Churchley (a badass himself who is completing a PhD in mathematics), came across my EBS mission statement and promptly went to work finding the first few people with provable Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath numbers. Within the last few weeks, his work on EBS numbers have attracted the acclaim of some famous folks on the list, including Dr. Brian Cox, Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer), and Richard Vranch.
And so now Ross and I stand proudly on the forefront of EBS research, resplendent in our lab coats and science helmets, to present to you the official list of Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath Numbers. Ross maintains the official list with all derivations at his blog, while I provide some smartass commentary on some of the more interesting members of the list. Check out the official list over at Ross’ place, see if you can come up with some new links, and let us know if you make progress.
So what is an Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number? And who’s Erdos? Once you hear about Paul Erdos, one of the most famous and prolific mathematicians of the 20th century, you’ll know why this particular game just made sense. He is said to have published more sheer pages of mathematics than anyone besides Euler. His fame reached so far and wide that coauthorships with him are cherished badges of honor in the mathematical world. At some point, someone started keeping track of how coauthor paths that connected researchers back to Erdos, and thus the famed Erdos Number was born.
Of course a similar game has sprung up around Kevin Bacon, whose razor-sharp nose seemed to pop up in every other movie back in the ’90s. You’ve probably heard of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, a great game to play on long car rides in alternate universes where smartphones don’t exist. It wasn’t long before someone checked whether there was anyone with both an Erdos number and a Bacon number…
Finally, it took a genius of my magnitude to make the gigantic deductive leap connecting Erdos and Bacon numbers with yet another similar game, the Black Sabbath Game. Yes, there are a handful of people in the world who have all three — who have reached such heights in all three domains to be really, really jealousy-inspiring.
Finally, let’s take a look at the list — as I mentioned before, head over to the Erdos Bacon Sabbath Project to see the most up-to-date list with all derivations. I keep a copy of it updated here, along with a bit of backstory for some of the folks (with my patent-pending snarky humor). Enjoy!
|Person||Erdos Bacon Sabbath Number
|Jeff “Skunk” Baxter||11|
|Sir Patrick Moore||12|
|Kool Mo Dee||14|
Would you like to know more? Would you like to contribute your own shorter derivations for a member of this list, or a new person to add? Would you like to contact us about turning Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath Numbers into a movie, starring Antonio Banderas as the blimp? Well, feel free to contact us:
@timeblimp on twitter (me)
@rchurchley on twitter (Ross)
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some coauthor paths to track down to get Dolph Lundgren on this list…
1. Yeah… we don’t have an editor. Pretty much just one guy runs this whole thing. But it’s fun to pretend!