***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org ***** As many of you know, starting in the 1960s, mathematicians had fun at parties (no, really) by trying to figure out their Erdős number. This referred to their minimum collaboration distance between themselves and the extremely prolific mathematician Paul Erdős -- Erdős has number 0, people who coauthored a paper with him have number 1, their coauthors have number 2, and so on. My own Erdős number is at most 4 via at least two network paths: me - Michael Laver - Norman Schofield - Craig Tovey - Paul Erdős me - Bernard Grofman - Norman Schofield - Craig Tovey - Paul Erdős Well, today I learned from my neighbors that Timothy Carr, the man from whom I bought my current house, was leaning towards voting for Obama until McCain announced his vice-presidential nominee (stay with me here). But in what must have been a stunned voice, he said "I can't vote for Obama now -- I kissed Sara Palin when I was in high school!" (Needless to say, Carr is from Alaska) So, astonishingly, this seems to give me a "Palin number" of at most 2 (though unless I am really drunk, I'm pretty sure it's not 0 or 1): me - Timothy Carr - Sara Palin I bought my house from a man who kissed Sara Palin. Maybe even more remarkably, if we stretch the rules on what constitutes a "collaboration", it gives Palin an Erdős number of at most 6. Compare that with Natalie Portman whose Erdős number is at most 5 from her Harvard psych undergrad days. All sorts of interesting questions arise. *In high school was Palin as prolific in "collaborating" as Erdős was at publishing? *Could this be a factor behind "the Palin bump?" *Are there any shorter paths between Paul Erdős and Sara Palin? *And what is *your* Palin number? James H. Fowler http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu _____________________________________________________________________ SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.