The Reincarnation Machine: Find out your past lives!

You Can Finally Find Out Who You Were in Your Past Life (and the One Before That)

You Can Finally Find Out Who You Were in Your Past Life (and the One Before That)

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
April 22 2015 3:51 AM

The Slate Reincarnation Machine

Who were you in a past life?


Who might you have been in a past life? To help you find out, we scraped tens of thousands of people from Wikipedia and built the Reincarnation Machine. Type in your birth date, and the machine will match you to somebody who died on your birth date or close to it. Then, it will match that person to somebody who died close to his or her birth date, and so on through history. Were you Elvis Presley? Lyndon Johnson? A Welsh stage actress? Type your birth date to find out!

See a famous person who died close to your birthdate and a person who died close to his or her birthdate—and so on through history.

What’s your birthdate?
/ /

You've had

human lives.

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Slate does not store any user birthdate information.

To build the Reincarnation Machine, Slate first scraped information about historical figures from DBpedia, which is a crowdsourced effort to pull structured data from Wikipedia.

Slate then filtered the data so that each date on which somebody died only retained the most famous person who died on it. Slate defined "fame" as the number of Wikipedia pages that linked to a person's Wikipedia page.

Reincarnation chains were computed for each date within the last 100 years.

For each link on each chain, the algorithm picked the three people who died closest to the previous person's birth date, only including people who died on the same day or an earlier day than that birth date.

Slate then scored the three people based on two factors: Their "fame" (see above) and the number of days between their death date and the previous person's birth date. The highest-scoring person becomes the next link in the chain.

All images appearing here are embedded directly from Wikipedia and are in the public domain or are thought to be in fair use.

License: CC BY-SA 3.0 USM

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Interactive by Chris Kirk.

Chris Kirk is a web developer at New York magazine and Slate’s former interactives editor. Follow him on Twitter.