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October 13, 2023

Google's Bacon Number Easter Egg

There are few things in life that can't be improved by adding bacon. And Google's search engine just proved that with its latest Bacon number Easter egg, a new way to play the classic parlor game that has players naming celebrities who can be connected to Footloose star Kevin Bacon in six steps or less.

The Bacon number feature is part of the Knowledge Graph, an effort by Google to make connections between people visible in search results. It's the latest example of the company putting its growing database to work, a major goal of the project that began appearing in search results earlier this year.

To find an actor's Bacon number, type his or her name and "bacon number" into the search box. A box will pop up showing the number of degrees of separation between that actor and Bacon, based on movies that the two actors appeared in together. The search function is rolling out slowly to users of both desktop and mobile versions of Google Search.

To calculate an actor's Bacon number, a graph is built out of all the movies in which that actor has appeared. Each actor is assigned a degree centrality (DC) and closeness centrality (CC) based on how many other actors are linked to that actor in the graph. As expected, actors with the most movies in common with Kevin Bacon are given the highest scores. These include actor Harvey Keitel, who appears with Bacon in several movies, and actor Samuel L. Jackson, who also stars with Bacon in Flatliners.