The year 2005 was the original date set for the target completion date for the human genome project. However, it was not always clear that this goal would be met.
As a method of estimating when the genome would be complete, we attempted to use economic principles. For example, one can ask experts (but neither Trey nor I am sure if we count as experts) to place bets with respect to parameters of genome completion. To this end, in 1998, Trey Ideker and I entered into a bet that approximated our consensus on the probability of genome completion. At the time, our estimate of the size of the human genome was 3.0 Gb. The bet was structured as follows:
1) At midnight, December 31, 2005, count the number of bp in the consensus contigs of the human genome (such contigs must have an error rate of less than or equal to 1:10,000). Unfinished or in progress contigs (i.e. stage I or II high-throughput-genome contigs), will not be added. The data will be acquired from Genbank or its logical successor(s). Overlapping portions of contigs (or duplicated data) will not count beyond the underlying consensus length.
2) If the number of bp in these contigs is 2.6-2.8 billion, no money shall change hands. (i.e., about 90% completion).
3) If the number of bp is less than 2.6 billion, Trey shall pay Jared $1.
4) If the number of bp is greater than 2.8 billion, Jared shall pay Trey $3.
Since the final count was around 2.86 Gb, Jared paid Trey $3.
More information resources on the Human Genome Project.
Return to genome page.