exponential growth

Marvin Minsky minsky at media.mit.edu
Fri Feb 17 15:30:01 EST 1995

In article <793029244snz at price.demon.co.uk> price at price.demon.co.uk writes:
>"John de Rivaz" writes:
>> I have been asked for the reference to the oft-quoted "if all 
>> those who have ever died were resurrected the world's population 
>> would only double."
>> Flicking through my books, including Jack Parsons' "Population 
>> versus Liberty" has not produce it.
>It's been years, but I remember some such quote from the opening of an
>Arthur C Clarke book, 2001 (I think). 
>He says something like "behind every person alive today there stands 20
>[not 1] ghosts".  Now I know 2001 is fiction but Clarke usually gets his
>non-speculative technical details correct.
>Michael Price                        price at price.demon.co.uk

Well, folks, it simply depends on who we're talking about.  If we
recognize our descent from the first eucaryote, then we'd have to
count perhaps a trillion direct ancestors. Or you could stop at
animals, vertebrates, mammals, or primates, in which case the numbers
would sharply drop.


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