This is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Last week I wrote about "How Many Ancestors Do You Have?" That article is available at http://goo.gl/fCu7w. In that article I counted the number of ancestors by performing a very obvious mathematical progression: two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so forth. In the past twenty generations, you have a mathematical chance of having more than one million ancestors. Thirty generations produces more than a billion ancestors, and forty generations results in more than one trillion.
The article is correct from a mathematical viewpoint but deliberately ignored one obvious fact: there have never been that many humans on the face of the earth since the dawn of evolution! In fact, several newsletter readers posted excellent comments about this at the end of the article at http://goo.gl/fCu7w. The reality is that it is impossible to have one trillion unique ancestors, regardless of the mathematics involved.
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