A Burst for Bursts

February 21, 2013

The other day I starred the following headline in my RSS feed: “Any Two Pages on the Web Are Connected By 19 Clicks or Less.” I didn’t read it immediately because it sounded like vaguely familiar old news that I could probably return to later.

But this morning in our office’s daily editorial meeting, I kicked myself because it turned out that article was about the work of one of Northeastern’s very own guys, Albert-László Barabási. It’s my job to know what’s going on with our researchers and I was miffed that I let this one slip by me. I immediately pulled out my phone and stealthily read the first few lines of the news story, which appeared on the Smithsonian’s blog Surprising Science:

No one knows for sure how many individual pages are on the web, but right now, it’s estimated that there are more than 14 billion. Recently, though, Hungarian physicist Albert-László Barabási discovered something surprising about this massive number: Like actors in Hollywood connected by Kevin Bacon, from every single one of these pages you can navigate to any other in 19 clicks or less.

But wait, hadn’t I heard that….before? Wasn’t this old news? By now I was having some serious déjà vu. So I went back to my office and downloaded the article that published on February 18th, 2013 with this so-called new discovery.

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