“The Six Degrees of Separation,” Wilson style

“The Six Degrees of Separation,” seems an interesting concept. This compelling theory shows how small a world we live in and how we connect to each other, even if we think we have no connection at all.

Frigyes Karinthy created the theory in 1929. Three students from Albright College—Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, and Mike Ginelli—played a similar game, “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,“ in 1994.

They developed the game to find a connection between famous Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon and other actors who seemed to have no connection with him. Fass, Turtle, and Ginelli found they usually could find a connection in two or three steps.

From this game, they published a book and made a board game. Kevin Bacon also opened the charity website sixdegrees.org and helped people through social networking with the donations he received.

“Six Degrees of Separation” gained more credibility in June 2006 through the research of Eric Horvitz at Microsoft. Horvitz analyzed 180 million users of Microsoft Messenger for one month. He extracted random samples and found that people connected to each other in an average of 6.6 steps. As a result of this research, Horvitz found that the world might prove much smaller than people believe.

International student poses in front of the famous Georgetown Cupcake during a recent trip to Washington, DC.
Photo by Danbi Koo

Wilson international students experienced this theory firsthand during their Washington, D.C. trip on Sept. 14th. They went to the famous bakery, Georgetown Cupcake, where they waited 40 minutes for cupcakes.

While in line, the students met a woman with her three adorable children. The students introduced themselves as exchange students from Korea attending Wilson College.

To their surprise, she said she taught as a professor at Wilson College. Wilson students from other parts of the world met a Wilson College professor before the semester even began.

Before the conversation, the international students felt uncertain about studying abroad. But the professor was happy to meet them and made them confidence even though they were away from home.  The students later learned they had met Dr. Jill Hummer, who they had lovingly nicknamed “Professor Cupcake” during their quest to find out her identity.

Now, it’s your turn to carry out!

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