On the likelihood of unlikely things

Compared with the story book universe inhabited by, among others, characters from our favourite comic books, our world has a low likelihood of unlikely things happening. A spider bite in our world, for example, is more likely to give you a disease than super powers. Exposure to radioactivity is more likely to kill you than give you super powers. Dying aliens are quite unlikely too, as far as occurrences go. But oddly enough, these things happen with surprising regularity in story books.

Look at it from the comic book point of view and you will find that such odd occurrences happen with great regularity in the same universe.

People say miracles are impossible. But when you think about it, it seems obvious that miracles are only extremely unlikely occurrences. An event gets called a miracle because it happened, because it was extremely unlikely to happen and it still did.

If comic book universes actually existed somewhere in the multiverse and if we could compare them with the world we live in, we might conclude that our universe has a lower ‘miracle range’. And yet, it may be argued that miracles happen quite regularly here as well. Of the millions of sperm cells that leave for an egg, only only one makes it. It is a mighty unlikely occurrence, but it happens every single day and is exceedingly common.

A wondrous story book universe therefore, simply exists inside a wider range of possibilities. Spider bites give people superhuman abilities, aliens land up on Earth with alarming regularity, children are born with the ability to shoot laser beams from their eyes. These are all extremely unlikely things, but they are made possible because of that universe’s support of a wider range of possibilities.

Scientists have spoken of our reality being a small part of a multiverse. A string of universes containing all possible worlds. Perhaps, somewhere out there, in that infinite string, is a world where strange and wonderful things happen everyday, much like in a comic book.