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Degrees of Separation warning

Divergence alarm
  [vote for,

Many HalfBakery ideas start with a simple basic premise but the annotations rapidly diverge beyond the infamous "Six Degrees of Separation".

One example is linked; the idea proposed was for deriving mechanical motion from wet string, but rapidly diverged away towards Hitler's leather trousers.

Heuristic software would scan the nouns in an idea's annotation and, using a Thesaurus as a reference, attempt to calculate an empirical "divergence index", indicating that the discussion has long-since wandered off into the tall grass.

For instance, a detailed and wide-ranging discussion of jet propulsion might still have a divergence index of between 2 and 3, having taken in pulse jets, ramjets, rocketry, differential equations and aerodynamics. However, an idea which starts from an idea for improved Archaeology techniques and progresses through making ladies undergarments out of cheese, via Schrodinger's mousetrap, to arguments about elephant's knees and the legalization of hallucinogenic drugs might have a divergence factor of 7 or more.

8th of 7, Mar 23 2011

Wet String Pressure Engine Wet_20String_20Pressure_20Engine
[pashute]'s idea which inspired this. [8th of 7, Mar 23 2011]

Recalls of Toyota cars in January 2010 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8473789.stm
[DrBob, Mar 23 2011]

Flamer's Guide to halfbakery. The_20Flamer_27s_20...e_20to_20halfbakery
The antithesis of this idea. [DrBob, Mar 23 2011]

Mea culpa http://entweb.clemson.edu/k12/recipes.htm
[mouseposture, Mar 23 2011]

Lyapunov exponent http://en.wikipedia...i/Lyapunov_exponent
[sqeaketh the wheel, Mar 24 2011]

The Sokal Affair http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair
[hippo, Mar 24 2011]


       //making ladies undergarments out of cheese// - Emmental? (for obvious reasons)
hippo, Mar 23 2011

       [Divergence factor now +2.3]
8th of 7, Mar 23 2011

       Coincidentally, 2.3 is the number of millions of Toyota cars that were recalled in January 2010. Just saying.
DrBob, Mar 23 2011

       But Dr Bob, do you think that is a good thing or a bad thing? I mean, it could be bad bacause so many of that make are failing in use; or it could be good because the company is actively helping customers by replacing the defective products. How can I tell the difference?
pocmloc, Mar 23 2011

       Speaking of which, I just came back from a short vacation in New Jersey. I was visiting my sister. She had one of the wildest birthday parties I have ever attended. I'm embarrased to say; Roller Derby girls party harder than Combat Arms soldiers.
MikeD, Mar 23 2011

       [Divergence factor now 5.9, and rising]
8th of 7, Mar 23 2011

       So, Ian, we expect wide divergence here; so the observed wide divergence is within expected tolerances; so we regard it as not particularly wide actually; but we expect wide divergence; therefore we are disappointed.
pocmloc, Mar 23 2011

       As a theory of the dynamics of halfbakery threads, this is promising, but incomplete.   

       Some diverge exponentially, it's true, and may even "blow up." Others range indefinitely over a bounded space of topics without ever repeating themselves. Other patterns include endless repetition of the same subjects or convergence onto one of a set of topics conjectured to be finite (the safety of hydrogen dirigibles is certainly a member of that set).   

       Sorry, was that too on-topic? How about <link>
mouseposture, Mar 23 2011

       //Some diverge exponentially, it's true,//   

       In that case, a Lyapunov exponent would be the right way to characterize the degree of divergence. <link>
sqeaketh the wheel, Mar 24 2011

       //Lyapunov exponent// Yes, that's what I meant. I was going to mention fractal attractors, but the anno's too longwinded as it is.
mouseposture, Mar 24 2011

       Not to mention paralepsis.
mouseposture, Mar 24 2011

       I thought this would be a good time for an "I thought this would have been" annotation. A degrees of seperation warning that was not so far removed from it's original social network hermeneutic would be useful in preventing communications or messages from travelling through networks.
rcarty, Mar 24 2011

       It's only a matter of time before someone mentions Hitler in these annotations
hippo, Mar 24 2011

       ... I voted for this, but in my opinion the title should have been "Degrees of separation bonus"

Half bakery is all about divergent thinking. Establishing a connection between wet strings and Hitler's trousers is *exactly* what half bakery is all about.
ixnaum, Mar 24 2011

       I don't want to think about Hitler's limp wet strings or trousers or anything of the nature right now...
RayfordSteele, Mar 24 2011


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