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Small World After All: Short e-mail chains reach targets worldwide

Six degrees of separation—the notion that every person on the planet can reach every other through a chain of about six social ties—has been borne out by the first large-scale study of social networks.

The more than 24,000 e-mail users who participated in the study were randomly assigned one of 18 targets in 13 countries, including a police officer in Australia, a veterinarian in the Norwegian army, and a professor at an Ivy League university. The participants were asked to help relay a message to their target by forwarding it to just one acquaintance whom they regarded as "closer" than themselves to the target.

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