Yes, I'm still knitting, but in the absence of anything interesting to show, I thought I'd write about something I just discovered: National Geographic's Genographic Project.
I know, I'm probably the last person to have heard about it, but I find it so exciting that I just have to share.
Under the auspices of National Geographic, Dr. Spencer Wells is heading this massive five-year study of human migration, charting the migration of peoples through the analysis of DNA. One focus of the project is the collection of DNA from isolated, indigenous peoples--those whose separateness is threatened by growing contact and intermingling with the rest of the world.
But the part of the project that I find personally fascinating is the public participation aspect. The project is collecting genetic samples from anyone who chooses to participate, providing further depth to the knowledge about the migrations of peoples. If you choose to participate, they send you a kit for you to take a DNA sample (through a cheek swab). Some weeks later, they will post your results on their website. You can find out more about your deep ancestry than you ever could have before. You'll learn which path your family took from our common origin in Africa. It's not genealogy; it's a glimpse into your own prehistoric past.
Of course, it's just a glimpse, a limited view into your past. Women will learn the migration path of their family only through the maternal line, because the mitochondrial DNA is what remains unchanged from one generation to the next (except for mutations, of course). Men can choose to trace their family's migration path through their paternal line (because the Y chromosome is unchanged except for mutations) or through their maternal line (through mitochondria). But I think it's absolutely fascinating to be able to get even this limited glimpse into this previously unknowable past!
Our kits arrived from National Geographic yesterday, and we'll be sending the samples in tomorrow. Then, waiting on pins and needles to see what we find out!