Landscape of Potential

You exist. Out of all the possible people to be born in your place, you were born. Out of the immensity of space and time, you arrived. A miracle. By which I mean, an event so extraordinarily unlikely and fortuitous that it makes us feel awe.

How unlikely was your birth, exactly?

If we look only at genetic variations among humans, we can get an estimate. The most different of humans differ by only 1% of their DNA. Each person’s DNA contains around 725 MB of data, but only 4 MB worth of unique data.

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? The genetic information that makes you You, would fit in a CD.

And if there was a “Generic Human” CD to compare to, the information that makes you unique would fit in the same amount of space taken up by an mp3 of “I’ve Got a Feeling”.

Lame? Perhaps. But in that tiny space there are 10^10100890 possible combinations, meaning that there are that many possible homo sapiens. (Some of these combinations would also be an mp3 of “I’ve Got a Feeling”, or of a snippet of Bach! Makes me wonder what my DNA sounds like).

10^10100890 (or 10^10^7) is such a huge number that I won’t even bother trying to understand it. I can explain it, but no human being will ever understand it.

If each of the 10^80 atoms in the observable universe had its own universe inside it, and each atom in that universe had a universe inside it, and so on for 99,999 times more sub-universes, then you would almost reach that number. And if each of those was a person, they’d all be different.

I’d say that makes you pretty unique.

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