# Editing 599: Apocalypse

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After Beret Guy has announced this, he runs into [[Cueball]] who has heard part of this, but he is only interested in the last part and asks to check if he understood correctly that the dead will walk the earth. When this is confirmed Cueball becomes very busy. | After Beret Guy has announced this, he runs into [[Cueball]] who has heard part of this, but he is only interested in the last part and asks to check if he understood correctly that the dead will walk the earth. When this is confirmed Cueball becomes very busy. | ||

− | He runs to his office and quickly writes a scientific math paper, then runs as fast as he can to the math department and get his colleagues to sign it. Then he runs to a cemetery where the dead are rising | + | He runs to his office and quickly writes a scientific math paper, then runs as fast as he can to the math department and get his colleagues to sign it. Then he runs to a cemetery where the dead are rising finds the one he searched for and asks the resurrected {{w|zombie}} if he is Erdős. When confirmed that he is indeed Erdős, Cueball asks him to sign the math paper. |

{{w|Paul Erdős}} (26 March 1913 – 20 September 1996) was a Hungarian mathematician who (according to Wikipedia) published more papers than any other mathematician in history, working with hundreds of collaborators. His grave is in the Kozma Street Cemetery in Budapest. | {{w|Paul Erdős}} (26 March 1913 – 20 September 1996) was a Hungarian mathematician who (according to Wikipedia) published more papers than any other mathematician in history, working with hundreds of collaborators. His grave is in the Kozma Street Cemetery in Budapest. | ||

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There is an in-joke developed among mathematicians called the {{w|Erdős number}} (similar to a Bacon number for film actors, referenced in the title text, see below). By definition, Erdős has an Erdős number of 0. Everyone who has co-written a mathematical paper with Erdős has an Erdős number of 1. Everyone who collaborated with them (but not Erdős himself) is assigned an Erdős number of 2. In general, if ''k'' is the minimal Erdős number of all the people you've written papers with, your Erdős number is ''k'' + 1. The Erdős number is the length of the shortest "chain" from you to Erdős. | There is an in-joke developed among mathematicians called the {{w|Erdős number}} (similar to a Bacon number for film actors, referenced in the title text, see below). By definition, Erdős has an Erdős number of 0. Everyone who has co-written a mathematical paper with Erdős has an Erdős number of 1. Everyone who collaborated with them (but not Erdős himself) is assigned an Erdős number of 2. In general, if ''k'' is the minimal Erdős number of all the people you've written papers with, your Erdős number is ''k'' + 1. The Erdős number is the length of the shortest "chain" from you to Erdős. | ||

− | Thanks to collaboration between mathematicians and other researchers, many people in science and medical research now have Erdős numbers. Not everyone has an Erdős number, though; people without any chain linking them to Erdős have an undefined Erdős number. For example, most people who are not mathematicians or scientists do not have Erdős | + | Thanks to collaboration between mathematicians and other researchers, many people in science and medical research now have Erdős numbers. Not everyone has an Erdős number, though; people without any chain linking them to Erdős have an undefined Erdős number. For example, most people who are not mathematicians or scientists do not have an Erdős number. Paul Erdős described people who had stopped doing mathematics as "dead." |

− | By this trick Cueball thinks that he and his colleagues will now all have a an Erdős number of 1. The joke | + | By this trick Cueball thinks that he and his colleagues will now all have a an Erdős number of 1. The joke being that he would be using his last few hours in this life to write a math paper just to improve his and his friends Erdős number. |

− | There | + | There is, however, many problems with his idea, even assuming the dead will walk the earth on that day. First of all having your name on a piece of paper with Erdős signature does nothing for your Erdős number. It needs to be a {{w|Scientific_literature#Scientific_article|scientifically valid paper}}, published in a {{w|peer reviewed}} {{w|scientific journal}}. And given that the apocalypse is happening, there seems no time, chance or reason to publish any more math papers. |

− | Even if there were time, it would not count for much to have someone sign a math paper they haven't even read, let alone had anything to do with the actual writing and research. The same would be true for the other five mathematicians who signed it. But of course many papers have coauthors who did not do much more than work in the same department as the person who actually wrote the paper (a sad but true fact) | + | Even if there were time, it would not count for much to have someone sign a math paper they haven't even read, let alone had anything to do with the actual writing and research. The same would be true for the other five mathematicians who signed it. But of course many papers have coauthors who did not do much more than work in the same department as the person who actually wrote the paper (a sad but true fact). |

− | Furthermore | + | Furthermore even if it did count, they will not be able to take the paper with them into the afterlife, and thus since no one would have had time to read the paper, no one would know they had an Erdős number of 1. In the afterlife they could all say that they had such a number, but then again everyone else with such an interest could do the same, since no one could prove otherwise. Of course if you end up in the same part ({{w|Heaven}} or {{w|Hell}}) of the {{w|afterlife}} as Erdős he could confirm or deny the claim, but that would probably not help Cueball and his friends, since he could tell the truth about their paper. |

That the whole comic is about the Erdős number, and not just Erdős signature, is made clear in the title text which refers to a similar (and less esoteric) meme called "{{w|Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon}}", or simply Bacon numbers. This time, the chain's center is actor {{w|Kevin Bacon}}, and the links are formed by two people appearing in the same movie. Unlike Erdős, Kevin Bacon is not dead, so those of you wishing to get a Bacon number of 1 still have a chance. | That the whole comic is about the Erdős number, and not just Erdős signature, is made clear in the title text which refers to a similar (and less esoteric) meme called "{{w|Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon}}", or simply Bacon numbers. This time, the chain's center is actor {{w|Kevin Bacon}}, and the links are formed by two people appearing in the same movie. Unlike Erdős, Kevin Bacon is not dead, so those of you wishing to get a Bacon number of 1 still have a chance. | ||

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:[Cueball, still going right, arrives at a grave, pen in hand and the other hand almost outside the panel, but with a corner of the paper just visible. The grave has a large gravestone to the right and in front of it there is a Cueball-like guy rising up from the ground using his arms to push up on the base of the stone and the small pile of earth towards Cueball. The guy looks very worn, with dirt on his head and scratches on his cheek.] | :[Cueball, still going right, arrives at a grave, pen in hand and the other hand almost outside the panel, but with a corner of the paper just visible. The grave has a large gravestone to the right and in front of it there is a Cueball-like guy rising up from the ground using his arms to push up on the base of the stone and the small pile of earth towards Cueball. The guy looks very worn, with dirt on his head and scratches on his cheek.] | ||

− | :[Cueball bends a little down and offers | + | :[Cueball bends a little down and offers pend and paper to the raised dead man who looks up at him when he is addressed-] |

:Cueball: Paul Erdős? | :Cueball: Paul Erdős? | ||

:Erdős: Yes? | :Erdős: Yes? |