In BriefThere are so many factors that have led up to each of us coming into existence. Explore below the actual odds of you being you.
Life, in and of itself, can only be described as unlikely, since nearly 14 billion years ago, only basic light elements existed. Over time, gasses like hydrogen and helium were fused into heavier elements, which later made carbon-based life-forms possible. As Edward R. Harrison, a British astronomer and cosmologist, allegedly said, “Given enough time, hydrogen starts to wonder where it came from, and where it is going.”
The odds of certain things existing seem insurmountable, yet the strangest, most improbable things happen anyway. Take you, for example, you only exist because an infinite series of choices — most of which, are beyond improbable individually — made it possible.
Say your grandparents happened upon each other at a restaurant. If one of them chose a different restaurant or arrived a few minutes too early or too late, he or she would have lessened the odds of ever meeting at all. Consequently, if they never met, your parents would have never been born; they, in turn, wouldn’t have created you.
These things don’t even take biological factors into account — like the specific sperm and egg that gave you your identity long before you emerged from the womb. Simply put, some scientists calculate the probability of you existing exactly as you are, at this very moment, to be one in 400 trillion [or 4×1014]).
In this infographic from Visual.ly, researchers break down many of the probabilities: