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Grandparents Experiment - World Population Dilemma

By Edited Nov 6, 2015 1 1

I was doing some thinking the other day and wondered if anyone has thought about this. I was adding up my grandparents from each generation and the number became extrememly large throughout the generations. I then did a population check of the world during certain years and it seems that I was related to everyone in the world. Actually, it seems that I was related to people who did not exist! Stay with me here, let me try to explain as we go through this.

We all know that we have two parents, a mother and a father. O.K., that was pretty simple. We also know that we have 4 grandparents, which of course is our mother and father's parents. Our grandparent's parents, are our great-grandparents, and since we have 4 grandparents, that will give us 8 great-grandparents. Our 8 great-grandparents all had parents of course, they all had a mother and father, and these people were our great-great grandparents, we had 16 of them. As we can see here, the numbers will just double for every generation of grandparents we have.

The world human population in the world as of 2010 is around 6,800,000,000, that is 6 billion and 800 million. Below is a figure of what the world population was during different years.


Estimated world population at various dates (in millions)

Year World Africa Asia Europe Latin America

Northern America

Oceania
70,000 BC

< 1

10,000 BC

1

9000 BC

3

8000 BC

5

7000 BC

7

6000 BC

10

5000 BC

15

4000 BC

20

3000 BC

25

2000 BC

35

1000 BC

50

500 BC

100

1

200

1000

310

1750

791

106

502

163

16

2

2

1800

978

107

635

203

24

7

2

1850

1,262

111

809

276

38

26

2

1900

1,650

133

947

408

74

82

6

1950

2,519

221

1,398

547

167

172

12.8

1955

2,756

247

1,542

575

191

187

14.3

1960

2,982

277

1,674

601

209

204

15.9

1965

3,335

314

1,899

634

250

219

17.6

1970

3,692

357

2,143

656

285

232

19.4

1975

4,068

408

2,397

675

322

243

21.5

1980

4,435

470

2,632

692

361

256

22.8

1985

4,831

542

2,887

706

401

269

24.7

1990

5,263

622

3,168

721

441

283

26.7

1995

5,674

707

3,430

727

481

299

28.9

2000

6,070

796

3,680

728

520

316

31.0

2005

6,454

888

3,917

725

558

332

32.9

2008

6,707

973

4,054

732

577

337

34.3

Year World Africa Asia Europe Latin America

Northern America

Oceania

I did some thinking the other day and wanted to give others something interesting to think about. As I kept adding up how many grandparents I had from generation to generation, and figured out the world population by each year, it sort of baffled my mind. I am going to give an example below as to why it baffled my mind. Please keep in mind that with the example I'm giving below, it is estimated that each woman would give birth to her child at the age of 20. Of course some mothers would give birth in their 30's, and some would give birth as a teenager, but I thought that the age of 20 would be a good average age that the woman would give birth.

Stay with me here.

I was born in 1975

My mother and father were born in 1955

My 4 grandparents were all born in 1935

My 8 great grandparents were born in 1915

My 16 great-great grandparents were born in 1895

My 32 great-great-great grandparents were born in 1875

My 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents were born in 1855

My 128 great (5X) grandparents were born in 1835

My 256 great (6X) grandparents were born in 1815

My 512 great (7X) grandparents were born in 1795

My 1,024 great (8X) grandparents were born in 1775

My 2,048 great (9X) grandparents were born in 1755

My 4,096 great (10) grandparents were born in 1735

My 8,192 great (11X) grandparents were born in 1715

My 16,384 great (12X) grandparents were born in 1695

My 32,768 great (13X) grandparents were born in 1675

My 65,536 great (14X) grandparents were born in 1655

My 131,072 great (15X) grandparents were born in 1635

My 262,144 great (16X) grandparents were born in 1615

My 524,288 great (17X) grandparents were born in 1595

My 1,048,576 great (18X) grandparents were born in 1575

My 2,097,152 great (19X) grandparents were born in 1555

My 4,194,304 great (20X) grandparents were born in 1535

My 8,388,608 great (21X) grandparents were born in 1515

My 16,777,216 great (22X) grandparents were born in 1495

My 33,554,432 great (23X) grandparents were born in 1475

My 67,108,864 great (24X) grandparents were born in 1455

My 134,217,728 great (25X) grandparents were born in 1435

My 268,435,456 great (26X) grandparents were born in 1415

My 536,870,912 great (27X) grandparents were born in 1395

My 1,073,741,824 great (28X) grandparents were born in 1375

My 2,147,483,648 great (29X) grandparents were born in 1355

My 4,294,967,296 great (30X) grandparents were born in 1335

My 8,589,934,592 great (31X) grandparents were born in 1315

My 17,179,869,184 great (32X) grandparents were born in 1295

My 34,359,738,368 great (33X) grandparents were born in 1275

We are going to stop right here, my brain is starting to hurt with all of these numbers. The numbers of course will just grow larger and larger and we will eventually hit the trillions. As mentioned earlier, the population today is 6,800,000,000, but as we go through the grandparent experiment we were related to that many people sometime between 1315 and 1335. Of course this dosen't make sense since the world population was somewhere between 310,000,000 and 79,000,000 at that time. Can you explain this to me?

I know that there were plagues that killed millions and millions of people through out history, cutting off a huge part of the population; not to mention all of the wars and natural disasters. It is still something to think about though. All of the people in the grandparents experiment indeed did survive until they created their baby, from which you eventually came from down the line. Just think about it, if only one of those people had died and broken the linage that led to you, you would not exist.

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Comments

May 3, 2010 6:29pm
Kevin
Very interesting thought experiment! One of the reasons to why the populations don't add up is rebreeding between branches in your tree.

It is pretty likely that back in the day when people were confined to a village or tribe of people that there was a good deal of interbreeding. Maybe not from close generations, but from a couple down the line.

If you are interested in this stuff, you should check out Wikipedia for Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam.
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