Race Against Time

photo from unsplash

As the sperms enter the cervix, the race begins- one in millions chance to become you. Planets in the Solar System align to welcome your conception. You are the chosen one, my dear.

You ancestors had to fight against astronomical numbers of odds to bring you here. From our Sun’s birth and the Solar System formation, aeons had passed before first bacteria appeared in our oceans. Even then, the melting pot of the primordial soup was only the beginning. Giant asteroids and ice ages were on the cards, with the arrival and extinction of dinosaurs in the middle. Not to mention masses of cataclysms, wars, famines and other obstacles that your grand grand grandparents had to endure to bring you here.

The fact you are in front of the screen today seems like a miracle, God’s secret plan, as we like to call it. It is hard to believe that a process so complicated could occur purely by accident.

If we allow ourselves, even briefly, to entertain the thought that there is no plan, existential dread kicks in pretty quickly. The word “chaos” comes to mind. What if one day we get wiped out, just like dinosaurs did?

Chaos, as most people know it means the disruption of the existing order. It could be something insignificant like broken traffic lights or power cuts, but it is also floods, global pandemic, or giant asteroids that hit our planet.

These events are natural. They are a consequence of chains of events, happening each day, all the time. We just don’t think about it.
We don’t concern ourselves with the asteroids that avoid Earth. We don’t think of our one in millions chance to get born as chaotic. And yet it is all Chaos.

Look at the pandemic. It is like a textbook example of the “butterfly effect”. Only this time it was a bat, not a butterfly. One bat, which unleashed a chain of events, leading to massive disruption and thousands of deaths a few months later. That’s Nature as your ancestors knew it, a mighty wild force we’ve never managed to conquer. The orderly life you think of as “normal” is just a dream, a blink of a geological eye. If there’s a plan, it is much bigger than you and me. It’s much bigger than the Solar system.

And yet, chaos theory states that apparent randomness of things is, in fact, a property of complex order. Within the apparent randomness, we find cycles, repetitions, and feedback loops. To find a pattern, to map it, to predict it, is an attempt to decipher God’s language.

We see patterns that explain our climate, genes, even the stock market. We use our knowledge to predict upcoming changes. We race against time to take charge of our destiny; our one in a million chance to survive.

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