What's in a name?

Unisex names given to babies in the last decade

The 140-character spike

The proportion of tweets having a given number of characters

Who else has an Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number?

A little while ago, I did some sleuthing to find out the Erdős number of Brian May, astrophysicist and guitarist from Queen. My travels led me to Timeblimp, who threw together three measures of professional collaboration to make a rather fun parlour game. Assuming that the people in your parlour are three kinds of nerds and enjoy long and complicated internet scavenger hunts. Which I am and I do.

The game is to find a well-known person who has published academically, released a song, and been involved in a movie or TV show. Then, you play three versions of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: find a series of movies to connect them to prolific actor Kevin Bacon, a series of coauthored papers to connect them to the eccentric mathematician Paul Erdős, and a series of musical collaborations to get to Black Sabbath. Add up all the links and you get the Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath number.

To even have an Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath number puts you in quite an exclusive club. Only four people — Richard Feynman, Natalie Portman, Stephen Hawking, and the aforementioned Brian May — are known to be on the list. Until now. In this post, I’m going to throw out a few more potential names and put in the legwork to add two of them to the list of People at the Center of the Universe.


Brian May has an Erdős number

If you’ve heard of Erdős Numbers, Erdős-Bacon Numbers, and the fact that Queen lead guitarist Brian May has a PhD, you may have wondered whether Brian May has a well-defined Erdős-Bacon number. As a matter of fact, he does. Here’s how the rock legend is connected to the centres of cinema and academia.


Exponential growth in Katamari Damacy

YouTubers' progress on the 'Make the Moon' level of Katamari Damacy

Most English words are short

Short words are more frequent in written English