Its a Small Small World

six.jpgRemember ‘Chachi‘ from Chachi 420 talking about her connections with ‘Baji Rao’? “Hamare sambandh Baji Rao ke khandaan se hain . Unke behen ke pote ki beti meri aai ki mausi ki nanad hai.”

In a similar way, I have connections with Robin Uthappa! He is my friend’s school friend’s college friend’s brother’s friend.

I know the reader must be confused by now. Well, let me clarify that this is just an instance of the “six degrees of separation” theory.

Originally put forward by American sociologist Stanley Milgram in 1967, it states that every person on Earth can be linked to any other person by just six ties. Even though it was on a small scale, the experiment which was conducted to prove the theory worked. Ninety-six people around America were selected randomly and were required to reach their designated target through the U.S Mail. It was seen through the experiment that the messages that successfully reached their destinations passed through an average of six people.

If this experimental verification is not convincing enough, then here is more proof. In 2003, a team at Columbia University asked 60,000 e-mail users from 166 different countries to reach one of the 18 target people across 13 different countries around the world. There was a catch – they could not just send an e-mail directly to the target. They had to connect through creation of a human chain by mailing someone they knew. They had to ask that person to continue the links by e-mailing someone else they knew. It was expected that eventually an e-mail would be sent to someone who knew the target personally, thereby completing the chain.

It turned out that the chain on an average had just four people but taking into account the dropout rate, the conclusion drawn saw a chain length of between five and seven people. This conclusion is extremely fascinating.

The truth be told, this concept is not a new one. Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian radio pioneer in his Nobel Prize speech way back in 1909, suggested that, on an average, it required 5.83 radio relay stations to cover the entire globe. Two decades later, author Frigyes Karinthy in one of his stories suggested that the world is shrinking due to the ever-increasing connectedness of human beings, attributing it all to the technological advancements in communication and travel. He believed that any two individuals could be connected through at most five acquaintances. It is not exactly the “six degrees of separation” theory, but the idea is somewhat similar.

A UK-based company, Mind Candy, is currently testing the theory by distributing a picture of a Japanese man named Satoshi. The idea was originally a part of a puzzle Perplex City but has grown ever since. (

I personally managed to establish a link with the entire Indian Cricket Team (Deepika Padukone included). I have links with the Roadies 5.0, JAL band members and Atif Aslam as well. Go ahead and establish more links with people who you do not hang out with often!

Prateek Khurana

(image courtesy:[email protected]/144939708/)