What are the Odds

What are the odds that you exist, as you, today? Author Ali Binazir attempts to quantify the probability that you came about and exist as you today and reveals that the odds of you existing are almost zero.

What are the Odds?

Let’s start small.

What are the odds of your dad meeting your mom? Though the world was smaller 20 years ago, your dad could have met almost 200 million of its women (go, dad!). But over 25 years, he probably met around 10,000 women. So the odds that your mom was in this small group and met your dad is 1 in 20,000.

But we know how tricky love can be

What are the odds that they stay together long enough to have kids? It is a 1 in 10 chance that they talk to each other. Also, a 1 in 10 chance that they go on a second date. Another 1 in 10 chance that they keep dating for a while. And a coin toss if they stay together long enough for offspring. Thus, the odds that your parents’ meeting results in kids is 1 in 2,000.

So far, the combined odds of you being here are 1 in 40,000,000. That is about the size of the population of California.

Now things are going to get pretty interesting.

Why? Because we are about to deal with eggs and sperm, which come in large numbers. Mom has about 100,000 eggs in her lifetime. Dad makes about 4 trillion sperm during the years you could have been born. What are the odds that the 1 egg… met the 1 sperm, which together made you (and not your brother)?

1 in 400,000,000,000,000,000 (1 in 400 quadrillion) 

That is approximately the volume in cubic meters of the Atlantic Ocean (3.236x(10×10 seventeen times) cubic meters)

But we’re just getting started.

Because your existence here, now, and on planet Earth presupposes another supremely unlikely and utterly undeniable chain of events. Namely, that every one of your ancestors lived reproductive age – going all the way back not just first Homo sapiens, but all the way back to the first single-celled organism. You are a representative of an unbroken lineage of life going back 4 billion years.

What are the odds that your lineage remained unbroken for the length of human existence?

1 in 2 odds that a child will be born, grow and reproduce per generation… for 150,000 generations. 1 in 10 times 10 for 45,000 times. 

That’s 10 with 45,000 zeroes after it.

That’s pretty big but wait a minute. The right sperm also had to meet the right egg for every single one of those ancestors. That is 1 quadrillion multiplied by 1 quadrillion for every generation.

Odds of the right sperm meeting the right egg 150,000 times? 1 in 10 times 10 for 2,640,000 times.

By comparison:

The number of atoms in the body of an average male (175lb) is about – 10 x 10 (times 10 for 27 times)

The number of atoms making up the earth is about – 10 x 10 (times 10 for 50 times)

and the number of atoms known universe is estimated at – 10 x 10 (times 10 for 80 times)

Think of it like this:

It is the probability of 2 million people getting together (about the population of San Diego.) each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice, and they all come up with the exact same number – for example, 550,343,279,001.

So, the odds that exist at all are:

Basically ZERO