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Q: geneology ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: geneology
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: chris3-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 30 Oct 2002 12:59 PST
Expires: 29 Nov 2002 12:59 PST
Question ID: 93494
What is the furthest relative I could have on Earth, I have been told
the correct answer is 52nd cousin. Can you corroborate?

Subject: Re: geneology
Answered By: johnny_phoenix-ga on 01 Nov 2002 07:57 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hiya Chris3

In order to answer this question I thought i would look at the "roots"
of the problem, (pardon the pun).

Definition of 'cousin'
A relative descended from a common ancestor, such as a grandparent, by
two or more steps in a diverging line.

Using this information i found a very interesting site that explains
clearly how to work out the terms as we all get confused as to how
somebody that is our
"first or second cousin" is actually related to us. 

Normal cousins as you will see from the table are called first

I think you will find this table interesting and very useful in
explaining what can be a confusing piece of lineage to work out.

Cousins Table

As you will see from study of the table, in order to find the common
ancestor of your 4th cousin you have to go back 5 generations, to find
your common ancestor to your 3rd cousin you have to go back 4

Therefore if you extrapolate the data it naturally follows that to
find the common ancestor for your 52nd cousin you would have to go
back 53 generations.

For most purposes, it is generally accepted that one generation =
approximately 25 years, therefore there are four generations every

Using this calculation 53 generations would find you and your 52nd
cousin's common ancestor as living around 1325 years ago or around

The closest estimate that i can find to the estimate of the population
of the earth around that time is on an educational timeline webpage
which i think can be considered a trusted source.

Climate TimeLine

This estimates the population of the earth in the year 1000 as 254
million people.

If we assume that your common (53rd) ancestor had the norm of two
children and each child had two and each grandchild had two and so on,
we get a table like this.

Generation   Year    cumulative decendants. 

1             677        2
2             702        4
3	      727        8
4	      752       16
5	      777       32
6	      802       64
7	      827      128
8	      852      256
9	      877      512
10	      902     1024
11	      927     2048
12	      952     4096
13	      977     8192
14	     1002    16384

So as you can see around the year 1000 your ancestor had around 16384
great(x14) grandchildren who were at the maximum 13th cousins of each

So obviously 254 000 000 - 16 384 = 253,983,616 unrelated people lived
on the planet in the year 1000. Or even if they were related earlier
than your common ancestor, the decendants of any cousins living in
your generation would be seperated by more than 52, since if your
common ancestor had a brother for example, any decendants of theirs
would be now 53rd cousins of you therefore shattering the theory. If
he himself had a cousin, they would be 54th cousins to you and so on.

Another reason that I believe the theory of 52nd cousins is innacurate
is that if for the purposes of the exercise, we can agree that every
generation produces a model two offspring, in 53 generations, (to make
your 52nd cousins) your "common ancestor from 677 AD would have double
the number of decendants from the last generation as you can see from
the table above.

If you copy that table to excel and get it to extrapolate the data to
the 53rd generation you will note that by the year 2002, your common
ancestor will have 1.8E +16 decendants = 18000000000000000 people.

The population of the earth in the year 2000 was estimated at only 6
Billion people.

Therefore in conclusion it is hard to pin down an exact answer when
dealing with so many variables and I believe that it is entirely
likely that anyone you meet in the street or see on television or hear
about in another country is in some way related to you.

But I hope that i have shown that as far as saying that EVERYBODY in
the world is related to everyone else by at the most 52 degrees of
separation, this is an optimistic if not fanciful suggestion or
theory. I hope that you would agree after reading my research that
this cannot be the case.

Another Quandry
This is where another quandry arises, since there are obviously not
enough people on the planet to support the theory, there will be the
element that some of the decendants along the way, will in all
innocence have mated with other decendants.

Its a scary thought that our wives or girlfriends, boyfriends and
husbands could actually be both our partners and our 48th cousin on
our mother's side as well as our 51st cousin on our father's side !!!

Search Keys "Distant Relative" "Generations" "cousins" "Geneology and

I hope this helps. 

Johnny Phoenix
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