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Posted at 04:59 PM ET, 09/13/2012

Testing the limits of the Google Bacon Number


Kevin Bacon with Lori Singer in “Footloose.” Her Google Bacon number definitely comes back 1. (Paramount)

Would you like to take what remains of today’s work productivity and send it straight down an entertaining online drain? Great. Then spend some time exploring the new Google Bacon Number search functionality, which purportedly allows you to determine how many degrees any actor is from Kevin Bacon. That’s right, you no longer need to rely on your movie knowledge when you play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. You can just Google all the answers, which erases any of the fun the game may have still provided 18 years after first becoming a thing. Yay, Internet!

To put the feature to work, all one has to do is type “bacon number” followed by the name of any actor, into a Google search bar, and the search engine should generate a number.

For example, type “bacon number joaquin phoenix” and you get this result, which tells you the answer is 2. (Joaquin Phoenix and Lucas Till were in “Walk the Line,” and Lucas Till and Kevin Bacon were in “X-Men: First Class.” Who is Lucas Till again, you ask? You’re on Google, yo. Look it up.)

It quickly becomes apparent that the answer to almost every Bacon number query is 2.

Bacon number aaron paul (I thought of that because I just used the word yo, by the way): A 2.

Bacon number kristen stewart: 2 again.

Bacon number simon pegg, which for some reason is the first option to autopopulate after the words bacon number: Surprise, a 2.

Bacon number peewee herman? Wait a minute ... we get nothing! Boom! Roasted!

Uh-oh. Time out. Bacon number paul reubens ... yeah, it’s a 2.

Movie buffs, Web geeks and people with nothing better to do have spent much of the afternoon trying to beat this thing. New York Magazine’s Daily Intel thought it had conquered the Bacon backend when it realized that Sen. Patrick Leahy’s appearance in “The Dark Knight” wasn’t recognized by the Bacon Number data crawlers, even though the Democrat was in the movie with Gary Oldman, who was in “JFK” with Kevin Bacon. (And that’s just one of the many Batman-to-Bacon paths, kids!)

A rep for Google kindly explained that the results are based on the Google Knowledge Graph, which should capture most celebrities and public figures but is not, like, imdb or anything.

Translation: The Google Bacon Numbers are bad, just like the numbers on “Lost.” Fine, they’re not bad. They’re just not 100 percent inclusive.

For example, I typed in the name of a high school friend who was legitimately in a movie with Kevin Bacon — Ben Saypol (hi, Ben!), “Telling Lies in America,” 1997 — and that gave me nothing, too, even though Ben is totally someone in the real world. And if you think you’re going to type in your own name and get an answer, forget it, unless you’re Susan Sarandon or something. It may not recognize you either.

Don’t feel too badly, though. Google Bacon Number doesn’t acknowledge that Kevin Bacon is connected to Honey Boo Boo either. And aren’t we all, in an important way, linked to Honey Boo Boo?

By  |  04:59 PM ET, 09/13/2012

 
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