Posts tagged Guardian
26 Oct 2010
I'm a bit behind on my Guardian Science Weekly Podcasts, but I learned this evening that you might well be my sixth cousin (according to Steve Jones). Yes, you - If you're British that is (I'm probably not so closely related to you otherwise). Fascinating stuff.
Incest means having sex with a relative - and we all indulge in it, whether we realise or not. On average, two randomly chosen British people are sixth cousins, which means that they share an ancestor who lived in the year of publication of The Origin of Species (1859).
Update: this can't be correct, surely. Sixth cousins share their great-great-great-great-great grandparents, and I have 128 of those. In order for it to be likely that you are my sixth cousin, these 128 together must have around 60 million descendants. But this means that at each generation there must have been around seven children born, every one of whom would then go on to have another seven children, and so on. But that's surely absurd, since the UK population in 1851 was around 20 million, so there hasn't really been a huge amount of growth. Assuming two fertile children per generation, the probability that you are my sixth cousin is around one in 7000. Assuming four fertile children, it's around one in 60.
5 Feb 2010
I'm quite excited about this General Election thing. For one thing, struggling to overcome my very British apathy and cynicism, I'm beginning to find politics vaguely interesting. And I find myself in one of the most interesting constituencies for the coming election. A Conservative stronghold from its creation in 1950 until 1997, the Brighton Pavilion seat was gained by Labour in 1997. With the current MP due to retire, many people consider the frontrunner to be Caroline Lucas MEP, the leader of the Green Party. And, for the first time ever for a UK parliamentary seat, the shortlist is going to be all female, with the four major parties all fielding female candidates. Here's a video about the situation from the Guardian's Comment is free pages: