How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer

This documentary focuses on networks overall and how we learned that the features of networks can be applied to physical as well as social systems. Throughout the documentary, it shows the progress of an experiment in which 40 people around the world are asked to forward a package to a particular person (a geneticist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute) via sending it to only people they know already. The point was to track how many people it would take to get the package from a random person to a particular person. This video is part 3 of the series. In about the fifth minute of this video, it begins talking about the world wide web, particularly the discovery of hubs that organize networks. It also goes into how these hubs also exist in the networks of celebrities, transportation routes, computer chips, and human cells. Unfortunately, there seems to be a part missing between Parts 3 and 4, and the last part of the documentary is also missing.

The first and second parts give good background information on how and why six degrees of separation works, and how Kevin Bacon got involved. The first part is just introducing the experiment with 40 people I described earlier, as well as the idea that the world (including love) can be modeled by math. The end of the second part talks about Kevin Bacon and the trivia game that linked every actor to him.

Part 4 talks about how human sexuality (and as a result, STDs) is also a network that resembles the network model of the internet. The focus then switches to how social networks can be used to identify particular nodes and the information passed between these nodes to fight terrorism and predict terrorist behavior.

Part 5 talks about networks in the human cell. There are connections to be made between various diseases, and the networks created from protein interaction experiments could help find a cure for cancer and other illnesses for which there currently is no cure.

Links to other parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 4

Part 5

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