The Last Question

By Deane Barker on June 22, 2009

The Last Question — Isaac Asimov: I’m not much for science fiction, but something compelled me to read this story tonight.  Perhaps because it was short.  It will take you 15 minutes to read.

I realize Asimov was an atheist (or something close to it), but this strikes me as somewhat religious tale.  I guess it could be read different ways, which is perhaps the point.

“[…] All the energy we could ever use, forever and forever and forever.” Lupov cocked his head sideways. He had a trick of doing that when he wanted to be contrary, and he wanted to be contrary now, partly because he had had to carry the ice and glassware. “Not forever,” he said. “Oh, hell, just about forever. Till the sun runs down, Bert.” “That’s not forever.” “All right, then. Billions and billions of years. Twenty billion, maybe. Are you satisfied?”

Lupov put his fingers through his thinning hair as though to reassure himself that some was still left and sipped gently at his own drink. “Twenty billion years isn’t forever.”

If the concept of entropy interests you, we had a great discussion a couple years ago about Perpetual Motion and the Religion of Physics.  I just noticed that someone mentioned this story (but forgot the exact title, apparently) in the comments.

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