For the Love of Sci-Fi

Isaac Asimov’s “The Last Question” [Audio]

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 …

—Opening line, “The Last Question”

 

“The Last Question” is a science fiction short story written by Isaac Asimov. The story deals with the relationship between humanity and successive generations of computers called Multivacs.

Beginning in the year 2061, in each of the first six scenes of the story, a different character presents the computer with the same question:

“How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?”

Though the answer given in each of the first six scenes changes slightly, it can be summed up in the first answer to the last question:

“INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER”.

Finally, in the seventh and last scene of the story, the computer figures out how to reverse entropy.

In the featured audio above, “The Last Question” is narrated by Leonard Nimoy.

[YouTube]

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