9 May 2011

Europe Day’s three degrees of separation from Humphrey Bogart

Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone on Earth is on average approximately six connections away from any other person on Earth. The notion has been invented by a Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy and first introduced in his short story titled Chain-links (“Láncszemek”, see an excerpt here in Hungarian.)

It has been popularized by the Bacon-number (how many degrees away an actor is from Kevin Bacon) and by the Erdős-number (how many degrees away a mathematician is from the Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős, who published more papers than anyone in mathematics and who worked with hundreds of collaborators.) For the select few, having acted in a film and written a science paper, there is even a Bacon-Erdős Number (e.g. Natalie Portman or Stephen Hawking).

But how does Humphrey Bogart relate to Europe Day? Well, loosely interpreting the six degrees of separation theory, everything is connected on Earth to everything, you just have to find the links.

So let's see a thought experiment Although everyone connects in their minds Europe Day to Robert Schumann and his declaration, the original idea actually comes from someone else. It was an Austro-Hungarian-Japanese count, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, who proposed to organize a Europe Day. Of course, the originally proposed day was not the 9th of May, but the 21st of March, the day of the Spring equinox. (He addressed a letter to the Council of Europe to suggest this solution in 1955.)

But how to get from Coudenhove-Kalergi to Bogart? We, Kalergi was the model for the resistance hero, Victor Laszlo in the movie Casablanca (played by actor Paul Henreid ).

So it’s easy: Europe Day was invented by Coudenhove-Kalergi, who served as the model for Viktor Laszlo in Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart. That makes three degrees of separation in our opinion.

Now we may start working on the Kovács & Kováts number in Brussels... this will deserve another post. But for the time being, Happy Europe Day to all!

1 comment:

  1. Hey guys, this is an interesting thought experiment, but wait a minute: it should be personal connections, not X.Y. was modelled on Y.Z. :)

    BTW if you mention Coudenhove-Kalergis, don't forget his one proposal that WAS accepted by the Council of Europe!