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Success in coping with infinity could strengthen case for multiple universes

1:17pm, May 22, 2009

Before ER, House and even Marcus Welby, a TV-doctor show called Ben Casey opened each week with a hand drawing symbols, as the voice of Sam Jaffe identified them one by one: “Man, Woman, Birth, Death … Infinity.”

Those five symbols supposedly encapsulated what medicine was all about. But they could equally well have summarized the story of the universe. Cosmologists, the scholars of cosmic existence, generally concur that the universe is probably infinite. And they are consumed with understanding the universe’s birth, the prospects for its death and whether the presence within it of men and women has anything to do with it all.

Of course, the men and women don’t have to be human. Basically any sentient life-form capable of contemplating the cosmos will do. The question is whether life has a starring role in the cosmic drama or is merely an extra, permitted by prevailing conditions but not

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