# 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 put in the legwork to add two of them to the list of People at the Center of the Universe.

## New Member: Brian Cox, EBS #13

Sean from Timeblimp floated the possibility of rock star/particle physicist Brian Cox having a well-defined Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath number, but to my knowledge nobody has actually worked out what it is. So here goes.

It’s easy to find Brian Cox’s Bacon and Sabbath numbers (they’re both three) but his Erdős number is somewhat harder. I managed to find a path of length seven using only papers with three coauthors or fewer, but Cox has worked in gigantic collaborations like ATLAS. It may be possible to get a shorter path through one of the papers he shares with thousands of coauthors.

### Erdős number 7

**Brian Cox**- Hard colour singlet exchange at the Tevatron
- Leif Lönnblad
- Small-
*x*dipole evolution beyond the large-*N*limit_{c} - Gösta Gustafson
- The action-angle variables for the massless relativistic string in 1+1 dimensions
- Bo Söderberg
- Scaling laws for mode lockings in circle maps
- Boris Shraiman
- Scaling theory for noisy period-doubling transitions to chaos
- C. Eugene Wayne
- The Euler-Bernoulli beam equation with boundary energy dissipation
- Steven George Krantz
- Intersection graphs for families of balls in
**R**^{n} **Paul Erdős**

### Bacon number 3

**Brian Cox**- Stargazing Live
- Jonathan Ross
- Valiant
- John Hurt
- Jayne Mansfield’s Car
**Kevin Bacon**

### Sabbath number 3

**Brian Cox**- Dare
- Darren Wharton
- Thin Lizzy
- Tomy Aldridge
- Ozzy Osbourne
**Ozzy Osbourne**

## New Member: Tom Lehrer, EBS #9

Tom Lehrer is a mathematician-turned-musical-satirist; you might have heard his song listing the chemical elements. Starfish13 on the QI forums suggested Lehrer as a candidate: he’s got an an Erdős number of four according to MathSciNet and a Bacon number of two according to the Oracle.

The only missing link is the connection to Black Sabbath. I managed to find quite a short path via the Muppets.

### Erdős number 4

**Tom Lehrer**- The distribution of the number of locally maximal elements in a random sample
- WF Penney
- The number of components in random linear graphs
- John Riordan
- The solution of a certain recurrence
- Ronald Graham
- On sums of Fibonnaci numbers
**Paul Erdős**

### Bacon number 7

**Tom Lehrer**- The Frost Report
- John Cleese
- The Big Picture
**Kevin Bacon**

### Sabbath number 3

**Tom Lehrer**- “Silent E” from
*The Electric Company* - Joe Raposo (producer/lyricist)
- “The First Time it Happens” from
*The Great Muppet Caper* - Frank Oz as Miss Piggy
- “Born to be Wild” from
*Kermit Unpigged* **Ozzy Osbourne**

If you allow for Joe Raposo’s non-performing credits, this gives Tom Lehrer the lowest-known Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath number of 9 — making him tied with Stephen Hawking for Person Closest to the Center of the Universe!

## Footnote

After this post went semi-viral in 2012, I established an Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath website to compile the dozens of responses into a catalog of people with academic, dramatic, and musical credentials. The website was closed in 2018 after the EBS project had run its course, but the source code remains available on GitHub.