Roaches, population genetics, "Tell Buzz to buy more corn beef hash." was re: The Armageddon Rag

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From: Jeff Bone (
Date: Mon Oct 16 2000 - 17:58:03 PDT

Eugene Leitl wrote:

> Jeff Bone writes:
> > Well, not exactly, there's the whole minimum seed population necessary to have
> > viable genetic diversity, but then you know that.
> According to archaeogenomics we seem to have passed through a
> diversity bottleneck a (long) while ago. We're all successors of a
> small band of people.

IIRC, that's not generally accepted dogma --- there're differing analyses of i.e. the
Iceland studies which put the seed population size in a range that spans three or so
orders of magnitude. There's a big difference between starting over with 100 and
starting over with 100,000.

> I don't think population diversity thing is applicable to
> people. Technology insulates nicely from adverse effects of inbreeding
> (see rednecks for an example) until population will grow large enough
> to sustain variability due to mutation, and average fitness will begin
> to rise again.

In the big rock scenario, wouldn't you say all tech bets are off for long enough to
impact outcome? I would agree that our existing level of tech does throw popgen
assumptions out the window, but I'd assert that some catastrophe scenarios impact the
tech assumptions.

> I wouldn't count roaches as higher organisms.

My first apt in college, my roomies were totally slovenly. We had the most awful
roach thing going on. I swear to god one night I walked into the kitchen half-asleep
to get a drink of water, flipped on the light, and instead of scurrying away the
roaches started forming letters and words on the floor. "Tell Buzz to buy more corn
beef hash," they spelled out. "We like it."

Scary thing. Oh, wait, or maybe that was the blotter. ;-)

> And even the worst
> impact winter can only last a few years. Unless the rock falls
> directly on top of their head or they're hit by the tidal wave anyone
> remote enough from marauders with a lot of supplies should survive.

I dunno, hard to predict. Even so, at a few years, if tech infrastructure was
totally shot, that would have a significant impact on worldwide human population.
The only reason we can sustain 6.xB is our infrastructure? (.... conjecture)


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