Field of Science

The Last Question

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way:

Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov were two of the faithful attendants of Multivac. As well as any human beings could, they knew what lay behind the cold, clicking, flashing face -- miles and miles of face -- of that giant computer. They had at least a vague notion of the general plan of relays and circuits that had long since grown past the point where any single human could possibly have a firm grasp of the whole.
Continue reading The Last Question by Isaac Asimov or hear it spoken below.

It is interesting to note that different versions of this story I have encountered state the the sun will burn for ten billion years or 20 billion years. The written story above says twenty while the spoken story says ten. I don't know what the original version said (does anyone out there?). Perhaps this reflects our changing understanding of our sun which suggests that ten billion years is more appropriate.

1 comment:

  1. The copy I have (published in 'Nine Tomorrows' a collecion of short stories first published in 1963) says twenty billion. But it is worth noting that the character who says this isn't an expert, so the accuracy of the figure isn't that important to the story - as long as it's a finite number.


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