BY BRUCE CAMBER (This page was first posted within this site on September 5, 2017)
Too many people throughout history have believed, “I am more important than you. I am better than you.” Beliefs, attitudes, and this sense of self are used to make judgments and separate us from others. In spirit and in fact, we are all more alike than different and we all don’t know what we don’t know. Here is a simple example.
We are family whether we like it or not.
Mathematics provides a simple logic.
Back in 1992, I had a special apron made to give as a Christmas gift for everyone in my immediate family and some of the extended family. As you can see, this apron (as pictured on the right) proclaims, “We are family! Everybody …includes you and me.”
Below that heading is a progression of our gene pool as we go back each generation. This apron used a 30-year spread. A 20-year spread for each generation is a better average. It doesn’t take long to see how richly diverse we necessarily would become within 1000 years. Even with all the inter-marriage within relatively small villages and towns, diversity is quickly introduced with the unknowns.
The final conclusion was simply, “You’ve got the whole world in your genes.”
Let us see. Take a look at the picture on the right. Consider each of those four columns:
On far left are the years going back in time. Yes, it uses 30 years per generation where many would argue that 20-year average might be more appropriate. It has only been in the last few generations that the average has climbed up over 20 years. In the USA in 2007, the average was 25.2 years (U.S. Census Bureau 2007, November 30, 2007).
Wee’ve used a 20-year average for our numbers below.
The next column is the successive number of generations as we go back in time. Just imagine if everyone in your family throughout the last 400 years magically came alive and were present at your birth. How many people would be there to greet you? Most people do not have a clue.
In the fourth column there is a discussion. The challenge is to grasp the simple concept that you have the entire world in your genes… that everyone on earth is related.
The First Thousand Years
|1st||=||Your immediate family||=||There is your Mom’s side & your Dad’s side.|
|2nd||=||Just 20 years ago||=||Four grandparents – two more uniques|
|3rd||=||About 40 years ago||=||Eight great-grandparents; four more uniques|
|4th||=||60± years ago||=||16 great-great grandparents; 8 more uniques|
|5th||=||80± years ago||=||32 great, greats; 16 more possibilities|
|6th||=||100±||=||64 Great-Greats; up to 32 more possibilities|
|400 + years ago. You can easily calculate the year. In just just 20 big generations we all have over 1± million genetic strands and many, many unique family names.|
|500 years ago – do a quick calculation of the date – what would you guess the world’s population is? Estimates are right in the range 500 million people.|
In relatively short order we have more genetics — 8,334,272,992 — than the total world’s population today.
That is over 8 billion genetic recombinations within 33 generations. That is in as few as 700 years and perhaps as many as 1000 years. What happens with another 1000 years by going back another 1000 years is staggering.
As we go back our genetic richness increases greatly, yet the world’s population decreases. Similar to the idea that there are only six degrees of separation, here we learn there is hardly a degree of separation.
No wonder there are so many people descendant from that little group on the Mayflower! About 1000 years ago we would all have over 15 billion women within our genetic pool. Given that there are so many overlapping genetic pools, it is a special thought that we are all in some manner related.
Of course, we recognize that not too long ago there was not today’s mobility and we were marrying not-so-distant cousins, yet with the introduction of one wandering troubadour, genetic diversity is guaranteed.