In his last video, Derek Muller from Veritasium set out to explore where the concept of 'six degrees of separation' comes from, and whether there's any science to back it up. And he found that, surprisingly, the entire idea is based on a sample size of just 18 people in a 1960s experiment (and was later tested again with a game about Kevin Bacon). So naturally, being a scientist, he decided to set up his own not-so-scientific test to figure out if there's any truth to the idea that we're all connected through just six steps.
First he asked his viewers to try to get an email to him by sending one to someone they knew and had met in person. They'd ask this contact to forward their email on to Derek himself, or if they didn't know him, someone else who might. He then counted up how many emails had made it to him, and how many different people it had gone through to get there.
So how many emails did he get back? His video was seen around 750,000 times, and from that selection of viewers he received 350 emails, which is pretty impressive given our reluctance these days to put IRL effort into anything beyond hitting 'like'.
His results found that people were generally connected to him with just two or three degrees of separation, and the average number of steps it took for an email to reach him was 2.75.
That not dissimilar to the results achieved in the 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' experiment back in the early 2000s, you can see the results compared below.
Obviously there are some big limitations in the study. For starters, Derek's viewers aren't a random selection of the population, seeing as we're all interested in science and are therefore more likely to have mutual contacts.
Everyone watching is also connected to the Internet, which means we're part of the one-third of the world's population that's currently online. Derek also has no way of knowing how many emails were sent but didn't make it to him.
That said, he did find some pretty cool links, with people from 32 different countries and those with different language backgrounds all managing to get in touch with him.
While it's very far from a controlled scientific experiment, it's a pretty cool example of just how connected we all are. Check out the video above to see Derek explain his results.