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Last Update: Tuesday July 25, 2017

In just 21 generations you have over 1 million family names.

We are more closely related than we think.

The reason for this simple gift: Nobody seemed to have an answer to the question, "If we were to go back 1000 years, how many women would there be contributing to your DNA?"

It is a simple progression.  If we were to assume 20 years to a generation (we use 30 years in the progression in the left column), it would be calculated as 2-to-the-50th power. That is an impossibly large number -- 1,125,899,906,842,624  -- so to place it in perspective, we only go back 33 generations and that answer is  8,334,272,992, greater than today's world population.

Where societies and cultures often search for ways to distance themselves from others, sometimes to feel superior, here our efforts are to trivialize our differences and to build real bridges of understanding.  The apron pictured below is the 1992 model.

Family Business, the Crown Jewel

If you have a singular focus and you work effectively together, most families can become quite wealthy within three generations:

1.  From Dad to Daughter: AZ Technology

2.  From Family to Family:  Joe T. Garcia's  More...

3.  Black Family:  Husband and wife through it all.

4.  Crownover Family:  Father and son.

5.  Keller Family:  Husband and wife team.

6.  Lee-Lam Family:  Three brothers adopt one more.

7.  Miller Family:  Father and daughter.

8.  Mo's Chowder Family

9.  Solheim Family Ping:  Father and son.

10.  More about Family Business

11.  And, even more about Family Business

We are family.   You've got the whole world in your genes!

by Bruce Camber, December 1992, Updates: 2002, 2010,  2011, March 2016

Elitists of every kind are caught up in the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.  They hold that their beliefs, attitudes, and sense of self  are a proper basis for making judgments about "really-real"  realities. In spirit and in fact, we are all more alike than different.  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 was a progression of our gene pool as we go back each generation. Even with a 30-year average spread for each generation, it didn'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. It uses 30 years per generation. 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).

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 thirty years ago  =  Four grandparents - two more uniques
3rd = About sixty years ago  =  Eight great-grandparents;  four more uniques
4th = 90± years ago  =  16 great-great grandparents; 8 more uniques
5th = 120± years ago  =  32 great, greats; 16 more possibilities
6th = 150±  =  64 Great-Greats; up to 32 more possibilities
7th  =  180±  =  128 Great-Greats
8th  =  210±  =  256 Great-Greats
9th  =  240±  =  512 Great-Greats
10th  =  270±  =  1024 Great-Greats
11th  =  300±  =  2048 Great-Greats
12th  =  330±  =  4096 Great-Greats
13th  =  360±  =  8192 Great-Greats
14th  =  390±  =  16,384 Great-Greats
15th  =  420±  =  32,768 Great-Greats
16th  =  450±  =  65,536 Great-Greats
17th  =  480±   =  131,072 Great-Greats
18th  =  510±  =  262,144 Great-Greats
19th  =  540±  =  524,288 Great-Greats
20th  =  570±  =  1,048,576 Great-Greats
570 + years ago. You can easily calculate the year. If you were to use the more common figure of just 20 years to the generation, it would be 400 years ago. Notwithstanding, in just just 20 big generations we all have over 1±  million genetic strands and many, many unique family names.
21st  =  600±  =   2,097,152 Great-Greats
22nd  =  630±   =  4,194,304 Great-Greats
23rd  =  660±  =  8,388,608 Great-Greats
24th  =  690±  =  16,777,216 Great-Greats
25th  =  720±  =  33,554,432 Great-Greats
750 years ago - do a quick calculation of the date - what would you guess the world's population is?
26th  =  750±   =  65,108,864 Great-Greats
27th  =  780±  =  130,217,728 Great-Greats
28th  =  810±  =  260,433,556 Great-Greats
29th  =  840±  =  520,867,112 Great-Greats
30th  =  870±  =  1,041,734,224 Great-Greats
31st  =  900±  =  2,083,568,448 Great-Greats
32nd  =  930±  =   4,167,136,496 Great-Greats 
33rd  =  960±  =  8,334,272,992 Great-Greats

In relatively short order we have more genetics than the world's population today.

That is over 8 billion genetic recombinations within 33 genertqations.  That is in as few as 600 years and as many as 1000 years.  What happens with another 1000 years is staggering.

Of course, 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 powerful 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.

An open letter to my Mom on Mother's Day, by Bruce Camber