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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

Town Hall’s Science series is dedicated to understanding the world around us. Whether we’re hearing from a legendary physicist or a UW graduate student, the Science series explores math, biology, chemistry, the environment, and so much more.

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Nov 18, 2020

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 scientist Sean B. Carroll joined us with startling scientific discoveries to assert that we live in a world driven by chance.

Carroll drew from his book A Series of Fortunate Events: Chance and the Making of the Planet, Life, and You to submit that humans, like every other species, are here by accident. But what a glorious convergence of accidents! He examined how shocking it is just how many things—any of which might never have occurred—had to happen in certain ways for any of us to exist. From an extremely improbably asteroid impact, to the wild gyrations of the Ice Age, to invisible accidents in our parents’ bodies, we are all here through an astonishing series of fortunate events. Carroll invited us to ponder how chance continues to reign every day—and consider a new appreciation for the surprising source of all the beauty and diversity in the living world.

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 RulesBrave Genius, and Remarkable Creatures, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

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