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ON PERSONAL CONNECTIVITY

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futurehealth.org Headlined to H4 11/12/09

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something simply by thinking

about the obvious.

Take, for example, the obvious

truth that everyone

has exactly two parents.

Not at least two, not at

most two, but exactly two.

Necessarily.

Let us take this simple observation

to some of its

logical conclusions. Along

with the fact that it takes an

average of 20-30 years for

each generation.. Based on

this beginning, we make

several deductions. The

obvious one is that everyone

must have 2 parents. If

either one of them had not

existed, you would not have

been born. You owe your

existence entirely, and totally,

to these two people,

whose DNA you share. A

next conclusion is that

every person must have at

least 4 grandparents, ancestors

at the "2-generation"

mark, which is approximately

50 years ago. And

each of these 4 people must

have existed, for you to be

here today. Similarly, everyone

must have 8 ancestors

at the "3-generation" mark,

approximately 75 years ago.

And clearly, if any of these

great-grandparents had not

existed, you would not be

reading this today.

Taking this to its logical extentions,

let us consider a

time 200 years ago. Since

this is approximately at the

"7-generation mark", you

will necessarily have 128

ancestors around this time.

If any one of them had not

existed, you would not be

here today. You owe your

very life to these 128 special

people, each one of whom

contributed materially and

necessarily, to your existence,

and whose DNA you

share.

Who were these 128 people

in the year 1806? What did

they think? What did they

feel? Did any of them know

each other? What were their

hopes and dreams? Their

achievements and disappointments?

Did they realize

that at some point in the

unforseeable future, a very

significant part of the human

experience would depend

upon their exploits?

Take this reasoning to a

point of time 500 years ago.

At this time, 16 generations

ago, you would have something

like 100,000 ancestors.

This is a very large

number. It would exceed

the size of any typical town,

and a group this size would

constitute a significant

force. And every one of

these people was necessary

to your future existence.

1000 years ago, 33 generations in the

past, you would lay claim to no fewer

than a billion ancestors. But this number

exceeds the population of the earth

at that time. Clearly, you cannot have

a billion unique ancestors in the year

1000. There weren't enough people

to go around.

This means that, inevitably, ancestors

in one part of your family tree also

occupy spots on other parts of your

tree. That is, if you go back far

enough, your mother's mother's father's

father's mother's mother's father's

... father could be the same person

as your mother's father's father's

mother's mother's father's

mother's ... father, and this is very,

very common. There is a lot of blending

and sharing going on, and to a staggering

degree.

At the 2000 years-ago mark, the number

of putative ancestors is an astonishing 1,152,921,504,606,846,976. This is about a trillion times larger than the population of the earth at that time. The way to resolve this enormous discrepancy is to accept the fact that we are all cousins, and have been, ever since a few thousand hominids set out about 75,00 years ago on the journey we call being human. The very idea that we are separate beings is an illusion. This compels us to recognize that we cannot likely trace our connectivity backward in any simple sense of localized, limited heritage. Rather, we necessarily share identity and genetic information with a vast and distributed population that is both widespread and well mixed. The numbers compel it. 1000 years ago, 33 generations in the past, you would lay claim to no fewer than a billion ancestors. But this number exceeds the population of the earth at that time. Clearly, you cannot have a billion unique ancestors in the year 1000. There weren't enough people to go around.

This means that, inevitably, ancestors in one part of your family tree also occupy spots on other parts of your tree. That is, if you go back far enough, your mother's mother's father's father's mother's mother's father's ... father could be the same person as your mother's father's father's mother's mother's father's mother's ... father, and this is very, very common. There is a lot of blending and sharing going on, and to a staggering degree.

At the 2000 years-ago mark, the number of putative ancestors is an astonishing 1,152,921,504,606,846,976. This is about a trillion times larger than the population of the earth at that time. The way to resolve this enormous discrepancy is to accept the fact that we are all cousins, and have been, ever since a few thousand hominids set out about 75,00 years ago on the journey we call being human. The very idea that we are separate beings is an illusion. This compels us to recognize that we cannot likely trace our connectivity backward in any simple sense of localized, limited heritage. Rather, we necessarily share identity and genetic information with a vast and distributed population that is both widespread and well mixed. The numbers compel it.

In other words, the earth is already an island sufficiently small that, over the last millennia, we are already interconnected to an extraordinary degree.

Which bears on the theme of connectivity and connectedness. The earth now has on the order of 10 billion inhabitants, which is similar to the number of neurons in a human brain. Is it there that the resemblance ends, or might there be something more ahead?

 

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Dr. Collura has over 30 years experience as a biomedical engineer and neurophysiologist. He has conducted clinical research and development and system design, in the areas of evoked potentials, microelectronics, human factors, EEG mapping for (more...)
 

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