Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

“It was one hundred years ago today, on April 6, 1992,” stated Joshua Noyle, “that one of the greatest minds in the history of mankind passed away.”

“And who might that be?” inquired Tom Vittna, although to be honest, he didn’t really care.

“Isaac Asimov, of course,” was the matter-of-fact reply. “And today, I will continue the legacy of his favorite story, The Last Question.”

“Is that why you dragged me out here to the edge of the solar system, to pay homage to some long dead science fiction writer?”

Annoyed, Noyle raised his hand and began ticking off his rebuttal. “One, he was much more than a science fiction writer. Two, that story encompasses the essence of universe, the ebb and flow of time, the very…”

“Okay, okay, I yield. What’s the plan?”

“I plan to decrease entropy in a closed system.”

“What, reverse entropy? Violate the second law of thermodynamics. That’s impossible. Damn you Joshua, if I knew you were bringing me out here for such a lame brained scheme, I would have…”

“I can do it, Tom. I just need you to stay on the ship and watch my back. If the experiment goes awry, I need you to shut it down remotely.”

“Whoa, what experiment?”

“I’m going to take the Entropy Reverser with me in the shuttlecraft and establish a reverse entropy bubble around it. I’m not sure what will happen on the inside, so I need you to collapse the bubble by throwing this switch five minutes after I start the experiment.”

At this point, Vittna was more concerned about his friend’s sanity than anything else. Better humor him for now, he thought, and figure out how to get to the medical cabinet for the hypo sedative without raising suspicion. “Alright, Joshua, I’ll stand by the switch. But tell me what you expect to happen, er, inside the bubble?”

“Well, I’m not exactly sure,” Noyle replied. “In many respects, entropy is a measure of the direction of time. As time moves forward, entropy is always increasing. I suppose that when I reverse entropy, time will move backward. I’m taking an atomic clock with me to measure the effect.”

“Is it safe?” inquired Vittna as he meandered toward the storage closet. As Noyle began answering, he ducked onto the closet. He found the sedative and returned to the bridge, but Noyle was already gone. Looking out the forward viewport, he spotted the shuttlecraft moving away at maximum speed.

When Noyle was far enough away from the mothership, he primed the Entropy Reverser. A few seconds later, three green lights flashed across the control panel. Smiling, Noyle activated the Reverser. Instantly, he regretted it. He tried desperately to inhale, but the cabin air refused to fill the partial vacuum within his lungs. Millions of chemical reactions within his body no longer sought to lower their free energy, but to increase it. The fluids in his body froze solid. He died an agonizing, but rapid, death. The bubble began strengthening exponentially. It reached out beyond the fundamental force of electromagnetism, and began reversing the nuclear forces, and finally, gravitation.

Back on the mothership, Vittna watched as the shuttlecraft collapsed in a flash of blinding light, followed by the explosion of space itself. In a millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, the cosmological inflation consumed his ship and raced outward in all directions. In a few minutes, the new expanding universe would be cool enough to begin nucleosynthesis.


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