Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It can't be done

In my last post, I showed an ancestral line from William the Conqueror all the way to my grandfather.

Here is another ancestral line from a contemporary of William down to my grandfather. It was chosen more or less at random from 64 possible ancestral lines leading to Margred Verch Llywelyn, and from there this line is the same as the first one.
Iwerydd Verch CYNFYN             1024
Owain Ap EDWIN 1044
Angharad Verch OWAIN 1065
Susanna Verch GRUFFYDD 1095
Margred Verch MADOG 1129
Llewelyn Ap IORWERTH 1173
Margred Verch Llywelyn 1210
Maud de Clifford 1234
Eleanor Giffard 1275
Elizabeth le Strange 1308
Roger Corbet 1330
Robert Corbet 1383
Roger Corbet 1412
Anne Corbet 1438
Blanche Sturry 1472
Thomas Whitcomb 1502
William Whitcomb 1528
John Whitcomb 1558
John Whitcomb 1588
Johnathan Whitcomb 1628
Johnathan Whitcomb 1669
Johnathan Whitcomb 1690
William Whitcomb 1719
Oliver Whitcomb 1749
Oliver Whitcomb 1772
Hannah Whitcomb 1806
Lucinda Haws 1828
Mary Elizabeth Holdaway 1856
Arthur Marion Conrad 1882
There are 268,435,456 ancestral lines of 28 generations (2 raised to the power 28). Counting ancestral lines from around 1000 AD down to myself there are well over a billion -- 268,435,456 for each of my four grandparents.

I don't think it is particularly easy to understand just how many lines this makes. But, a simple calculation will convince you that, if you set yourself the task of contemplating each one of the ancestral lines of 30 generations for just one second each, it would take you just over 34 years to complete the task.

And, if you wanted to go back another 300 years (10 generations) on each line, you would need 34,000 years to contemplate each line for one second. Oh, wait. Let's give you credit for the 34 years you have already spent. That leaves you a mere 33,966 years to go!

Well, that's one reason it can't be done.

Mercifully, there are not enough surviving records to complete the research going back 30 generations. And, of course, that's another reason it can't be done.

So far, I've found about 10 lines that go back that far, meaning that I am one millionth of a percent done with my genealogy research.

Still, it's a fun hobby. Fits right in with my fascination with time.

1 comment:

Canadian Dave said...

Just think of all the peer pressure we're getting from our ancestors to get this life right.