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06.01.2016
Soon after Barack Obama's inauguration, Dee Myers of Vanity Fair posited that the new president was effectively the most famous living person in history [source: Myers]. In an effort to measure fame quantitatively -- something that has never previously been accomplished -- Schulman relies on Google.
In February 2009, fellow Beatle John Lennon performed quite well in Google compared to Harrison, placing him in the second place of all-time A-list celebrities [source: Schulman]. But Schulman's research is limited, since it leaves out Muhammad and Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, who complete the triumvirate of the most famous men in the annals of history. As for John Lennon, more than 40 years after claiming popularity over Jesus, the late star only clocks in at 14 million Google returns.
The Union attracts figures from all walks of life and continues to maintain its unparalleled reputation for hosting high profile guests from around the globe. Perhaps the most unique feature of the Oxford Union is the opportunity members have to meet, listen and to question some of the world?s most famous and interesting people in our renowned ?speaker meetings?. Many of the world?s greatest musicians have come to the Union, including Lang Lang, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jon Bon Jovi, Barry White, Dizzee Rascal, and in the last couple of years, Gerard Way, John Mayer, Nick Jonas, Emili Sande, A$AP Rocky, Incubus, Yoko Ono, Newton Faulkner, Hanson, the Noisettes and pop superstar Shakira.
Sport is an important part of college life in Oxford, and this is reflected in the guests we invite to speak. Since Albert Einstein?s visit to the Union in the 1920s, discussions about science have also been a regular part of the agenda with Professor Stephen Hawking, Lord Robert Winston and Dr Jane Goodall all having spoken.
From the silver screen to the starriest stage or music concert, the Oxford Union has played host to the greatest. There is also a strong American tradition: Presidents Reagan, Nixon and Carter have addressed the Society.
The country is living up to its melting pot reputation as American faces become less homogenous and more diverse, a phenomenon that renowned photographer and portrait artist Martin Schoeller captured for the October 125th anniversary issue of National Geographic magazine. The images, which are coupled with the individual's "self ID" and the box he or she checked to indicate race as specified on the 2000 and 2010 census, are a striking reminder of Americans' complex cultural and racial origins. Schoeller's photographs capture "the changing face of America," a trend that is no doubt picking up speed with the increase of both interracial marriages and the births of biracial babies.
On playgrounds and college campuses, you’ll find such homespun terms as Blackanese, Filatino, Chicanese, and Korgentinian. Tracey Williams Bautista says her seven-year-old son, Yoel Chac Bautista, identifies himself as black when he’s with her, his African-American parent.


She largely attributed that theory to the power of the World Wide Web, which people around the world used to track his path to the White house.
However, Eric Schulman, an astronomer and editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, has studied how to measure fame for more than a decade. According to his research, the modern formula for fame boils down to the number of relevant search engine returns a person's name gets, compared to the search engine traffic of a logarithmic unit of fame (dBHa). The Union attracts the most well-renowned speakers from all walks of life and especially in the world of politics: guests have included the US Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and the UK Prime Ministers Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, Edward Heath, Sir John Major and David Cameron.
Many choose to perform live to our members: Katie Melua, Nigel Kennedy, Billy Joel and the Mystery Jets have all given performances in the Union.
In the past, speakers have included Sir Steve Redgrave, Chris Eubank, Sven Goran Eriksson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Geoffrey Boycott, Imran Khan, Geoff Hurst and the legendary Sir Roger Bannister. Recently, science has started to take an even more prominent place with biologist Richard Dawkins, debating creationist AE Wilder-Smith during the Huxley Memorial Debate and Ben Goldacre, Jim Al-Khalili, Simon Singh, Sir Paul Nurse and Baroness Greenfield all speaking recently. In recent years, we have heard from Morgan Freeman, Warwick Davis, Diane Kruger, Ben Affleck, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Douglas, Martin Sheen, Natalie Portman, Kim Cattrall, Bill Nighy, Sir Patrick Stewart, Ewan MacGregor, Matthew Perry, Zoe Wanamaker, Terry Jones, Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Clarkson, Jon Culshaw, Phil Jupitus, David Walliams, Russell Brand, Ed Westwick, Hilary Swank, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Sir Roger Moore and Emma Watson.
Philip Pullman, Salman Rushdie, PD James, Lord Melvyn Bragg, Louis de Bernieres, Niall Ferguson, Dr Ian Banks, Anthony Horowitz, Jack Vettriano, Tracy Emin, Gerald Scarfe, Vikram Seth, Peter Hitchens, Ziauddin Sardar and Jung Chang have thrilled, amused and surprised our members. Although public figures welcome an invitation to speak at the Union, they defend their views on equal terms with any member who cares to challenge them.
Two of the greatest figures of 1960s America spoke at the Union shortly before their tragic deaths Malcolm X in 1964, and Senator Robert Kennedy in 1967. Census presented the question of race differently, allowing respondents the option of selecting more than one racial category, with nearly 7 million Americans identifying as members of two or more races. When Joshua Ahsoak, 34, attended college, his heritage of Inupiat (Eskimo) and midwestern Jewish earned him the moniker Juskimo, a term he still uses to describe himself (a practicing Jew who breaks kosher dietary laws not for bacon but for walrus and seal meat).
He also agrees that Barack Obama has achieved universal fame, possibly rivaling anyone else before him [source: Schulman]. That fame unit is derived from the Google results of a celebrity who has enjoyed a constant amount of fame over a long period of time [source: Schulman]. Other international leaders and notable figures include the former US Presidential nominee Senator John McCain, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, former New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, the Reverend Ian Paisley, Yasser Arafat, Russian politician and former finance minister Grigory Yavlinsky, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, US Attorney General and Senator Robert Kennedy, former speaker of the House of Representatives and Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
Last year Ne-Yo, Kate Nash, Tinie Tempah, Imogen Heap and Snow Patrol all gave impromptu live performancs in our debating chamber.


Most recently we were visited by Kapil Dev, Sir Jackie Stewart, Gianfranco Zola, Sol Campbell, Britain?s greatest Paralympic athlete, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Brian Lara, Andrew Strauss, Sir Ben Ainslie, Sepp Blatter, John Cena, Katherine Granger, Mark Webber and John Terry. We recently welcomed two famous Baywatch stars, Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff and were also able to listen to both Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Ben Kingsley in a matter of weeks; six months later we were humbled to host Johnny Depp who was greeted with a packed out chamber of eager fans.
Many speakers representing the world of journalism have also come, including Katie Adie, Jon Snow, Nick Robinson, John Sergeant, Andrew Neill and the editor of the Spectator, Fraser Nelson. Sir Edward Heath & Norman Tebbit have clashed over the dispatch boxes on Europe, as have Michael Heseltine & Michael Foot on the record of the Conservatives. In 1962, the Reverend Ian Paisley provoked uproar with his attack on Catholicism during a debate. Prominent politicans from the Irish Republic who have addressed the Union have included Prime Ministers Liam Cosgrave, Albert Reynolds, John Bruton and Bertie Ahern. More recently, Henry Kissinger, Vice-President Dan Quayle, the American Ambassador and Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, have visited. The 2010 census included changes to more clearly distinguish Hispanic ethnicity as not being a race, with data revealing that whites would no longer be the majority in the country by 2043. In recent years our guests included former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, former Home Secretary David Blunkett, Attorney-General Dominic Grieve QC, Home Secretary Theresa May, US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, Marine Le Penn, Hamid Karzai, Nigel Farage, Hilary Benn, Jesse Jackson, Malala Yousafzai and Nancy Pelosi.
The legendary Michael Jackson chose the Oxford Union in 2001 to make his first public speech in over a decade and launched his new charity here. Such events give members an opportunity to hear, question and challenge the speakers in a relaxed atmosphere. In recent years we have been fortunate in hosting the legendary Sir Michael Parkinson, the former editor-in-chief of The Observer, Will Hutton, Piers Morgan and Anna Wintour to uphold the Union?s reputation for representing the greatest figures of journalism.
Angela Davis and Cornel West debated the motion that 'This House Believes that Extremism in the Defence of Liberty is No Vice'. But considering that Lewinsky's fame stock has dropped significantly in recent years, Schulman readjusted his calculations and came up with Beatles guitarist George Harrison. Few other places can offer students the chance to meet the real person behind the famous face.



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