… recent studies by Alejandro Jenkins and Gilad Perez, authors of our cover story, “Looking for Life in the Multiverse,” show that some other universes may not be so inhospitable after all. “We have found examples of alternative values of the fundamental constants, and thus of alternative sets of physical laws, that might still lead to very interesting words and perhaps to life,” they write. In other words, scientists get a “disaster” for life if their models vary just one “constant” of nature, but if they vary more than one they can find values that are compatible with the formation of complex structures and perhaps intelligent life. What would these universes be like?
Many of us are captivated by the search for other beings in the vast cosmos beyond Earth. So it is ironic that we sometimes place such a paltry value on life that already exists on our own planet. Seven horrific tropical diseases, mostly caused by parasitic worms, ruin the lives and health of a billion impoverished people around the world by making them chronically sick, yet these ailments get less attention and money than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. In his feature article, Peter Jay Hotez presents “A Plan to Defeat Neglected Tropical Diseases.” Surely there is a way to provide the necessary drugs—which can cost just 50 cents per person—so that all people can thrive.