Saturday, October 15, 2011

Genealogy Numbers - Weekend Food for Thought

The other day in my class, we read a story involving the ancestry of the narrator. That led to an interesting discussion about each person's number of ancestors.

I'm no genealogist, so perhaps my understanding of the following is completely off base, but nevertheless I thought I'd use simple mathematics to point out some fascinating numbers.

You = 1 person

Your parents = 2 people

Grandparents = 4 people

Great-grandparents = 8 people

Great x2 = 16 people

Great x3 = 32 people

Great x4 = 64 people

Great x5 = 128 people

Great x6 = 256 people

Great x7 = 512 people

Great x8 = 1,024 people

Great x9 = 2,048 people

Great x10 = 4,096 people

Great x11 = 8,192 people

Great x12 = 16,384 people

Great x13 = 32,768 people

I work in a city with a population of about 40,000, so knowing that I have nearly as many great (x13) grandparents (and considerably more great x 14 grandparents) is virtually impossible to fathom.

If the pattern continues up to great x20 grandparents, each individual would have 4,194,304, or roughly the size of Los Angeles proper.

Most fascinating of all, most peoples' great x20 grandparents wouldn't have lived even just 1000 years ago. If you take me, for example (b. 1982) and go back in increments of 25 years (a good average in my case, since it's approximately how old my parents were when I was born, how old my grandparents were when my parents were born, etc.), my 4,194,304 great x20 grandparents would have lived in the 15th century.

I don't know about you, but I find it extremely humbling to know that my existence is the result of millions of individuals procreating.

That's your weekend food for thought. :-)

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