The Chance That You Exist is 1 in 400 Trillion

Amelia Zimmerman
2 min readJun 17, 2021
Photo by Delaney Van on Unsplash

There is a family of baby birds nestled in a mustard yellow porcelain jug on my porch. They are hairless and see-through and smaller than rubber balls. They look like they could rip in two at the slightest touch.

Tucked away in that porcelain jug, there is any chance that they could be flooded, preyed on, knocked off the ledge, lose their mother to an SUV or be cleaned out by an oblivious human.

And, really, so could you.

I love discovering how things work in the natural world, but for me the real miracle is not just how they work, but the fact that, despite everything, they exist at all.

The probability of these baby birds making it to adulthood is so small as to be miraculous, and yet, they probably will. There are far more reasons that they should not be here, and yet, here they are. It’s the same for trees: they cast their seeds to the wind, hoping they’ll be carried and dropped somewhere hospitable and not eaten before they get a chance to grow. For every billion seeds a polar tree produces and disperses in its lifetime, only one new tree will make it.

And it’s the same for you. You are alive and blinking in the blue light of your screen as you read this, but it would be a whole lot more likely for you not to exist at all. Scientists say the very fact that…



Amelia Zimmerman

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