posted 14 Jun 2012, 12:27
Everybody here is my family! Scientifically, geneticists tell us that every single person on this planet is at the least 50th cousins with everybody else on earth. It kind of has to be that way. Think of it this way , you have two biological parents and four biological grandparents and eight biological great grandparents, it keeps doubling. If you follow your family tree all the way back to the ancient Romans, 64 generations ago. That tree would need 1 quintillion separate individuals, that is larger than the number of humans who have ever existed. To quote Bill Bryson - " You couldn't be here without a little incest - actually quite a lot of incest." Not quite ridiculous , mind you, but if you go far enough back in your family tree you're going to find that quite frequently people who were distantly related had kids. If you are currently dating or married to somebody who is from your same country and is of your same ethnicity there's a one in a five chance that the two of you share a common family member fewer than 10 generations ago.
Further more, because our society is becoming more and more mobile, our most recent common ancestor is becoming more recent. Mathematically, for every human on earth right now our most recent common ancestor probably lived only 2000- 4000 years ago. A recent study (http://tedlab.mit.edu/~dr/Papers/Rohde-MRCA-two.pdf), found that there was a person alive as early as 300 BC who is related to every single person alive on earth. The study also found that that person most likely lived in Taiwan, near a busy port city so that their descendants could spread around the world. Now that being said, you only receive half of your genetic information from your father and the other half from your mother, and as you go up your tree it is quite possible that this ancestor had no contribution to your genome. So, who are you?
Now, a little bit of information and something to ponder upon. Bacteria are so much smaller than the average human body cell, your body contains more bacteria than it contains its own cells. And forget about remembering the cells and bacteria in your body, they're constantly dying and being replaced. Even cells like brain cells which seem to live for a very long time still take in new nutrients and expel waste, meaning that within about every 5 years every single atom that used to make up your body has been exchanged. Do you remember what you were like 5 years ago, well the atoms that make up your body sure don't.
Okay, how many atoms are inside my body to begin with? How much is a billion atoms? If you were to count one number greater every second , it would take you 12 days to count to a million, for a billion it would take you 32 years. A billion is a huge number, but not for atoms, as they are inconceivably small that even if you consider a billion sodium atoms, their entire weight would only be 38 femtograms. Each invididual cell in your body contains 100 times more atoms than there are stars in the milky way galaxy. There is something that was mentioned by Bill Bryson; because our bodies contain so many atoms and because we so vigourously recycle them. Statistically, about 1 billion of the atoms in your body used to belong to Shakespeare, a billion to Beethoven, a billion to Buddha. A thousand years from now, people that live on this earth, people who will change the thinking of man, develop new methods of space travel. They will have a billion atoms inside them, that are in you right now.
So, Basically what I mean to say is that everybody is related. We are all brothers and sisters. Take a deep breath and remember that we are the result of incest carried out by our ancestors. So, the next time you say to a friend - "You are like a brother/sister to me". Statistically, you wouldn't be wrong.