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Anorak | This Ain’t News; Benedict Cumberbatch Is Alan Turing’s 17th Cousin

This Ain’t News; Benedict Cumberbatch Is Alan Turing’s 17th Cousin

by | 12th, November 2014

Well, OK, perhaps it is news that Benedict Cumberbatch is Alan Turing’s 17th cousin because the Mail has decided to give us a story that tells us that he is. Other than that through it really isn’t news at all. What would be much more remarkable is if any two random Englishmen were not 17th cousins, at least.

In fact, we generally assume that pretty much everyone in the UK (except the most recent immigrants) is at least a 12th or 13th cousin. So this finding is in fact really telling us that Cumberbatch and Turing are less related than any other two random Englishmen .

He has been praised for his star performance as the code breaker Alan Turing in his latest film role.

But it seems Benedict Cumberbatch’s uncanny resemblance to his subject may be down to more than just good acting…because it turns out they are related.

The actor, 38, is a distant cousin of the celebrated mathematician, who broke the German Enigma code during World War Two.

Both men share a common 15th century ancestor, John Beaufort, the Earl of Somerset, making them cousins 17 times removed on his father’s side, experts from the genealogy website Ancestry said.

The problem with this is that as we go back in time the number of our ancestors increases exponentially. We’ve two parents, four grandparents, 8 great grandparents and so on. By the time we reach 17 generations back we’ve got 131,000 ancestors just in that one generation. And back then the population of the UK was 4 million or so. And yes, that does mean that the odds of any two of us being 17th cousins is higher than 50/50. Much higher: it’s close to a certainty.

The math is here :

To answer the question of “How likely is it that somebody is your 16th cousin” we can

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Posted: 12th, November 2014 | In: Money Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink