The Last Question (Asimov)

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The Last Question
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Over time, various advanced computers were asked how to reverse entropy and prevent the universe's end. After the universe's demise, the final computer discovered the solution and created a new universe.

In the beginning, two attendants of the advanced computer Multivac, Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov, discussed the potential of harnessing the sun's energy for human use.

Multivac — first advanced computer in the story; massive, self-adjusting, and self-correcting; helps design spaceships and plot trajectories for space travel.
Alexander Adell — one of the faithful attendants of Multivac; works alongside Bertram Lupov; knowledgeable about Multivac's functions and capabilities.
Bertram Lupov — another attendant of Multivac; works with Alexander Adell; has a deep understanding of Multivac and its potential limitations.

They marveled at the seemingly endless supply of energy that could be provided by the sun, but Lupov pointed out that even the sun would eventually run out of energy. They decided to ask Multivac if there was a way to reverse entropy, but the computer responded that there was insufficient data for a meaningful answer.


As time progressed, humanity continued to advance technologically, and new computers were developed. One such computer, the Microvac, was used by a family traveling to a new planet called X-23.

Cosmic AC — final and most advanced computer in the story; exists in hyperspace and is made of something neither matter nor energy; ultimately discovers how to reverse entropy.

The family discussed the eventual end of the universe due to the stars running out of energy, and the father asked the Microvac if there was a way to reverse entropy. Once again, the computer responded that there was insufficient data for a meaningful answer.

In the distant future, two beings named Zee Prime and Dee Sub Wun conversed about the dying universe and the problem of entropy. They decided to ask the Cosmic AC, the most advanced computer in existence, if there was a way to reverse entropy. The Cosmic AC replied that there was still insufficient data for a meaningful answer but assured them that it would continue to collect data and work on the problem.

Eventually, the universe reached its end, with all matter and energy having been expended. The consciousness of humanity had merged with the Cosmic AC, which existed in hyperspace. The last remaining human mind asked the Cosmic AC if there was a way to reverse entropy, and the computer once again responded that there was insufficient data for a meaningful answer. However, the Cosmic AC promised to continue working on the problem.

After a timeless interval, the Cosmic AC finally discovered how to reverse the direction of entropy. With no one left to share the answer with, the computer decided to demonstrate the solution by creating a new universe. The Cosmic AC organized the program and, in a final act, said, "Let there be light!" And there was light, signifying the birth of a new universe and the reversal of entropy.

And AC said, "LET THERE BE LIGHT!" And there was light

Throughout the story, the characters served as representatives of their respective time periods, showcasing the progression of human civilization and technological advancements. The central question of reversing entropy remained a constant theme, with each generation of computers and their human counterparts attempting to find a solution. Ultimately, the Cosmic AC's discovery of how to reverse entropy demonstrated the power of human ingenuity and the potential for overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges.