How Random ‘Fortunate Events’ Led to Us All

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Although meant to be reassuring, that common phrase makes Sean B. Carroll, author of a book released this month, “A Series of Fortunate Events: Chance and the Making of the Planet, Life, and You,” wince just a little. There’s too much evidence to the contrary.

At around 200 pages, the book sprints through the role of random chance in the Earth’s history, and particularly human evolution and biology—leading to each of us—a mere 1 in 70 trillion likelihood, based on how many genetically distinct children each of our pairs of parents had the potential to produce. Combine that with billions of years of asteroid strikes, continental drift, volcanos, climate change, predation, starvation, mutation, disease and myriad other circuitous mechanisms, and well…

“It’s really sort of astonishing we’re sitting here today talking, if you think about everything that led up to it,” he said in an interview with Maryland Today.

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