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Luck

As much as we like to take credit for our achievements, there's no denying the incredible influence of luck. Some of our greatest discoveries, like Penicillin, were the result of sheer accident. But for a lucky twist of fate, the Cuban Missile Crisis would have inveigled the planet in ash. Consider how fortunate we are to be living on a planet just far enough from the Sun to keep us warm, and by what freak accident we acquired intelligence.