Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Famous for 15 minutes?

A famous person once famously said that everyone is famous for 15 minutes.

Well let's see if it's possible to determine if this is correct, using nothing more than my own criteria for fame, the internet, and the back of a conveniently located fag packet.

Well there are approximately 7 billion people on the planet, as far as is known.

The average human lifespan is 67.2 years.

My arbitrary criteria for being famous is the inclusion in wikipedia's list of living people. This contains 612,250 entries.

So how many 15 minutes are there in 67.2 years?

Well 4 of them make an hour. Therefore 96 of them make a day. Allowing for leapyears, there are 365.25 days in a year. So that means there are 35,064 fifteen minute blocks in an average year. Multiply that by 67.2 and you get 2,356,300.8.

So if you divide 7 billion by 2,356,300.8, you should end up with the number of people that are famous at any given moment.

This I have done, and I got the figure, 2,970.7582325652140847212715795878.

This is clearly far fewer than the number of people included in wikipedia's list of living people, and so I have to conclude that we're on average famous for longer than 15 minutes. If not, then there would be far fewer famous people, unless you introduce some criteria such as only being famous while the person doing the counting is awake.

So how long on average are we famous for? To find this figure I need to divide the number of wikipedia'd living people, by that long number above, and multiply the result by 15. This will give the answer, in minutes.

612,250 / 2970.7582325652140847212715795878 = 206.0921664

Multiply that by 15 and you get 3,091.382496 minutes. That's 51 hours. 51.5230416 to be precise.

So, Mr Warhol, I'm afraid you were out by quite a substantial amount. You should have researched it, like what I did.

This does of course lead to a follow up question.

When will I, will I be famous?

I can't answer. I can't answer that.

driving lessons in Wallasey? learn to drive in Wirral? driving instructor in Birkenhead?


Jim Bliss said...

Actually, what Warhol said was "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes". But he never specified just how far into the future he was talking about.

After the zombie apocalypse, for example, pretty much all us survivors will know one another. So in a sense we'll all be famous for the rest of our lives (what is fame, after all, if it's not being known by every living person?)

There's a bit by Wooday Allen in one of his books (at least I think it's Woody Allen) where he rails against Warhol's prediction. "In the future", he suggests, "almost nobody will be famous."

Despite the plethora of z-list celebs filling the "reality" shows on TV, when you think about how many people are actually alive... I think Allen's version is probably more accurate.

Paul said...

Thanks for that, Jim. Just filling an idle half hour really, although I'm sure there are deeper issues that could be explored.

Your comments are being flagged as spam for some reason. Hopefully after telling blogger you're not a spammer, it will let you post directly in future.