What are the chances of YOU existing? A biologist explains | Sean B. Carroll

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Humanity has two giant collisions to thank for its existence, explains biologist Sean B. Carroll.

When an asteroid landed on the Yucatan peninsula 66 million years ago, it turned our planet into a debris field of chemicals that, eventually, fostered human life. Sean B. Carroll, author and esteemed biologist, unpacks the consequences of this collision, and claims we, as a species, should feel fortunate that we’re on this planet at all.

This historical cosmic event, paired with the tectonic movement of Earth’s plates and the initiation of the Ice Age, ultimately led to existence as we know it today. Without these random, chance environmental and biological encounters, the development of life would have been stunted, or even entirely nonexistent.

Even the sequence of human conception is random and unlikely, Carroll explains, leading us to reevaluate our understanding of evolution, true survival, and the significance of each individual life.

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About Sean B Carroll:

Sean B. Carroll is an award-winning scientist, author, educator, and film producer. He is Distinguished University Professor and the Andrew and Mary Balo and NIcholas and Susan Simon Chair of Biology at the University of Maryland, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was formerly Head of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, and led the Department of Science Education from 2010-2023. He is also Professor Emeritus of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin.

An internationally-recognized evolutionary biologist, Carroll’s laboratory research has centered on the genes that control animal body patterns and play major roles in the evolution of animal diversity. In recognition of his scientific contributions, Carroll has received the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Sciences, been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and elected an Associate Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization.