Why is the world the way it is? How did we get here? Does everything happen for a reason or are some things left to chance? Philosophers and theologians have pondered these questions for millennia, but startling scientific discoveries over the past half century are revealing that we live in a world driven by chance. A Series of Fortunate Events tells the story of the awesome power of chance and how it is the surprising source of all the beauty and diversity in the living world.
Like every other species, we humans are here by accident. But it is shocking just how many things had to happen in certain ways for any of us to exist, any of which might never have occurred. From an extremely improbable asteroid impact, to the wild gyrations of the Ice Age, to invisible accidents in our parents' gonads, we are all here though an astonishing series of fortunate events. And chance continues to reign every day over the razor-thin line between our life and death.
This is a relatively small book about a really big idea. It is also a spirited tale. Drawing inspiration from Monty Python, Kurt Vonnegut, and other great thinkers, and crafted by one of today's most accomplished science storytellers, A Series of Fortunate Events is an irresistibly entertaining and thought-provoking account of one of the most important but least appreciated facts of life.
Sean B. Carroll is an award-winning scientist, writer, educator, and film producer. He is Vice President for Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Balo-Simon Chair of Biology at the University of Maryland. His books include The Serengeti Rules (Princeton), Brave Genius, and Remarkable Creatures, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
"Fascinating and exhilarating – Sean B. Carroll at his very best."
– Bill Bryson, author of The Body: A Guide for Occupants
"A Series of Fortunate Events is an engaging blend of science and culture, written in Carroll's usual easygoing style. Highly recommended!"
– Matthew Cobb, author of The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience