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Posted by on Jun 7, 2009 in At TMV | 13 comments

Call for Math Wizards at TMV

I’m working on an article, and could you help me with a math problem?

I have gotten lost in all the decimal points and commas and sub-problems. I know from reading comments that some people who visit TMV are gifted at things like this, I’d appreciate any help you can give me:

1. Say there are aprx 6B people in the world. Say about half of them are women. Say that women potentially have childbearing ability from ages 12 through 45. Say that about half of the 3b women in the world are of child-bearing age.

So of 1.5B women having one baby per year, with three months off in between, and just say that all children live to majority or more, just for the sake of projecting… that would be let’s just say maybe about 20+/- children brought into the world by each of the 1.5 woman, depending on her age at the onset of this ‘study’.

How many babies would that cause to be added to the population of Earth in 33 years time?

2. And, this is the second part of the math problem that I also get tied around the post with, not knowing how to figure the correct answer… Of the children brought in that 33 years time, imagining that half are girls, and that all those girls will theoretically reach childbearing age at age 12, so they are ADDED to the group of 1.5B women already having babies (within that 33 year period… the ‘new’ girls (just an aside: to me 12 yrs. old seems like a child rather than a woman, but biological ability is what I’m trying to weigh here) seem they will each have at least 12 babies, which should be added to the sum of problem #1 above?

How many babies total between #1 and #2 would come onto the Earth in that 33 year period of time.

I havent figured into these equations re deaths of either mothers or children over those 33 years, nor for deaths in the general population either. Nor have I figured in for births of twins, triplets, etc. Maybe as I can get these parts of the math problem solved, I can add in stats for all those. Right now, my mind already feels like it’s going to explode just from trying to write this all out so it makes sense. So thank you for any assistance you can give.

Dyslexically yours, and I’m not kidding,

P.S. #3 while we’re at it, I know this sounds like a loaded question, but it’s serious, and I dont mean that as a pun either. If there are aprx 50-100M sperm in every ejaculation, can anyone guesstimate for me about how many of those lovely events might occur for one average male from say age 12 through say age 72? I know, I know, you’re wondering what the heck kind of article Im writing. Well, you know Ionesco’s work? I am a serious absurdologist.

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  • 1. One child every 15 months over 33 years would be approximately 26.4 children per woman. So 1.5B women having 26.4 children each would give us another 39 600 000 000 people.

    2. The additional 19 800 000 000 women by age 12 will have another 21 years to propagate, which puts out 16.8 children per woman, so another 332 640 000 000 or 352 440 000 000 total between the two groups over 33 years.

    3. I don’t know that I understand the question. Are you asking how many times a male will ejaculate over his lifetime?

  • I should add I’m no math wiz. I plugged numbers into Google and any error is mine somewhere along the way.

    I should also note the parameters aren’t very realistic. Women hit puberty in no small part due to nutritional influences. Girls in the U.S. are reaching reproductive age sooner and sooner due to better nutrition (and in many cases high obesity rates) while girls in developing countries, from which most population growth originates, that age is closer to 14 or 15.

    And as you alluded to there are a hundred other factors such as child mortality rates and basic child-rearing lifespans which will be fairly radically different depending on the country you’re looking at. So too is it important to look at the natural slowdown in population increases as a country becomes more modernized – again for various reasons.

    Not sure where you’re going, so this may be irrelevant, but the UN does have population projections out to 2300. A link to the pdf:

  • rudi

    Even the undeveloped word women aren’t having 20 chidren. This site gives the number of births per 1000 women in the US.

    Consider the most recent statistics available from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

    * In 2006, 4,140,419 babies were born in the US.
    * The mean age for women having their first baby in 2003 is 25.2 years, compared with 25.1 years in 2002.
    * Birth rates for women 35 to 39 (46.3 births per 1,000 women) and 40 to 44 (9.1 births per 1,000 women) were the highest in more than three decades.
    * The birth rate for teenagers, ages 15 to 19 years, dropped 2 percent in 2005. The current rate for teens is 40.4 births per 1,000 teens.
    * In 2003, the twin birth rate continued to rise, increasing 1 percent between 2002 and 2003. The current rate is 31.5 twin births per 1,000 women.
    * The preterm birth rate (less than 37 weeks in the womb) rose to 12.7 percent for 2004-2005.
    * Cesarean deliveries accounted for 30.2 percent of all births in 2005.

    The 46.3per 1000 is a more realistic stat. I imagine a similar stat exists for the EU and Third world.

    Another site with a weighted average for first birth:

    The following site estimates future populations by countries:

    Found this site which does give per 1000 for each country:

    The data from this last site could be used in a spread sheet, with simple multiplication , to give a ball park number. Would that help?

  • archangel

    Rudi and Ethos, thanks, this all helps. Man, do you guys want to be my research go-tos? Fabulous links. And yes Ethos, #3 was just asking for a guesstimate about how many times in a lifespan (from age of puberty to age 72 or so) might an average male send 50-100M of their best into flight. Being a woman, I am not sure I have enough experience in these matters to even know what is ‘average,’ let alone a man’s lifetime opus… and I mean that lovingly and also in admiration. Not sure men realize how stunningly they are put together. So much magic in soul and biology.

    I realize reproductive matters are a little bit of ‘silent subject’ in many layers of our cultures, and you can always reach me through [email protected]

    kind regards,

  • StockBoySF

    I don’t know how many times the average man would ejaculate in his lifetime. But I would guess once per day for 60 years (assuming puberty starts at 12, so 72-12=60). 60 x 365 is 21,900 times. Multiplied by say 75MM would be 1,642,500,000,000. Which, as amazing as that number is, it is still less than out national debt. I don’t know which I’m more amazed (or scared) by- the number of sperm produced or our $11.4 trillion national debt. I guess it’s safe to say that no man can out-sperm our national debt- he’ll have to have his male children and grandchildren ejaculate to match the debt, just like we’re passing the debt along to our children and grandchildren to take care of. How’s that for a connection? 🙂 Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  • archangel

    “…as amazing as that number is, it is still less than ou[r] national debt.”

    are sure you arent Russian StockBoy? that kind of dry wit about government compared to everything else… almost seems a part of the national DNA in the most charming Russkis. You made me laugh out loud. Not that the nation’s debt is funny. It isnt. More like hysterical e.g., causing such, that is, in the root sense of the word.


    • StockBoySF

      dr.e, I’m not Russian, and I’m glad you laughed. I had fun in the response and the national debt IS funny, in an absurd sort of way.

  • Ghostdreams

    Hi Doc!
    Ok, now I just HAVE to ask ..
    Does this sperm thing have anything to do with an Antonin Artaud radio play (circa 1947)?
    I don’t know as much as I should about Ionesco. I like the work I’ve read by Artaud and I’ve seen a few plays written by Genet that I liked ..
    And in looking up Ionesco to see if he was a “homie” of Artaud…Genet ….
    I see both names mentioned, so I click on Artaud and come up with a bio and a few links to some of his work ..
    Another click (Artauds radio play: To Have Done with the Judgement of God 1947) and the first thing I read?

    “I learned yesterday
    (I must be behind the times, or perhaps it’s only a false rumor,
    one of those pieces of spiteful gossip that are circulated between
    sink and latrine at the hour when meals that have been ingurgitated
    one more time are thrown in the slop buckets),
    I learned yesterday
    one of the most sensational of those official practices of American
    public schools
    which no doubt account for the fact that this country believes itself
    to be in the vanguard of progress,
    It seems that, among the examinations or tests required of a child
    entering public school for the first time, there is the so-called
    seminal fluid or sperm test,
    which consists of asking this newly entering child for a small
    amount of his sperm so it can be placed in a jar
    and kept ready for any attempts at artificial insemination that
    might later take place.”

    And there’s a lot more sperm where that came from! Click on the link!

    That just seems too coincidental!
    I mean, three clicks and there we have a major “sperm” text? AND it said on Wikipedia that Ionesco was majorly influenced by Artaud…

    Oh wait!

    I just typed in “Jean Genet and sperm” and the quotes I found there cannot be copied to here.
    I’d never be allowed to post here again (a little graphic eh?), but suffice to say, Genet has a lot to say about the subject too…

    But wait again!

    Cocteau TOO! Seems he wrote a short play in which the term is to be found a plenty…
    Once again, it’s probably best I don’t quote due to inappropriate subject but…

    Oh my!
    Samuel Beckett as well?? Yet another playwrite/poet who is …dare I say it?
    Sperm obsessed?
    Same issue .. a bit graphic…but ….

    Hell yeah!
    This sperm thing seems to be everywhere in modern/post mod and experimental theatre.

    I have no idea what you were inquiring into Doc, but now what *I* am really wondering about is…

    Where are all the ovums??
    Lots about sperm but no ovums?
    I am not sure but I think I might .
    Resent it!
    I mean, what is that all about?
    I wanna know!
    I really want to know!
    I am …(drum roll please)…
    Waiting for the O!
    ( O as in ovum…get it? get it? Waiting for Godot??! .. oh Never mind .. I know it’s terrible humour but it’s quite late) ..

    (offstage voice whispers)
    “Say goodnight ghost”
    Good night
    tee hee hee
    😀 😀 😀

  • archangel

    that’s pretty funny Ghost, all of it. Artaud wrote a primer for actors that I like very much. As you might imagine, he plays on the absurdities of absurdists. lol. I think you might like the absurdist poet, Russell Edson, if you dont know his work already. Also, Robert Shure’s work, Twink was the first absurdist poet I read. I believe his tiny but funny little book of poetry is still published by City Lights.

    Regarding ova, those I know way more about …it’s the other gender I wanted to guess-check. Yet ongoing, the ‘alike but diifferent’ variations of biology and behavior in even one gender, either one, are so rich and startling.

  • Ryan

    I’m curious what possible value the calculations from the article have… we already know that the situation in the article is never going to occur since almost nobody maximizes their fertility in that way. In four years, half the population of the entire planet would be under 4 years old. In real life, we have some form of population control in play, natural or otherwise. I guess you could make a case for contraception like that, but it seems a roundabout way of doing it.

  • archangel

    dear Ryan; look at the last two sentences of the article. I’m working on a piece of satire. I like your estimate that half the planet wd. be under four years old… surely one party or another would introduce a bill in Congress to lower the voting age then. JUST kidding. I hope that made you smile


  • StockBoySF

    “[H]alf the population of the entire planet would be under 4 years old”.

    Hahahaha….. I hope the four year olds are Republicans because a four year old would govern better than the current crop of GOP leaders.

  • ece

    Hi Dr E

    I hope u figure it out, it’s all possibilities and numbers it seems
    Love your stories, thanks for them


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