The End

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In the end, all the lights went out. Every star, big and small, splashed out of existence and left behind a super dense black hole. All the planets that had long since been devoid of life were atomised by whichever black hole was nearest. In turn, whichever black hole had just made a tasty meal of an aeons dead planet was destroyed by the next biggest super black hole. This went on for quite a bit. The only events of significance that occurred for several trillion years were massive, unfathomably gargantuan, super-duper big gravitational waves that just shook the universe to its ends and back. The black holes, like invisible and incredibly heavy marbles, danced around the spacetime continuum. If a human had been alive to see this happen, they would have found it rather boring. It took a long time for anything exciting to happen so far into the universe’s lifespan – not even a big pointy stick would get it to do something fun. This really ticked off TK-77P, the last surviving proof of… anything, really.
 
TK-77P was one of the sleekest models the universe had ever seen, and that was saying something. His smooth spherical outer casing was matte black, like the very fabric of spacetime, but his insides were cosmically more complicated. He had several million quantum circuits in him which, if he used them to calculate pi, could be done to the same decimal place as years the universe had been alive, times two. Granted, he hadn’t always been the best; for a few billion years his endearingly arrogant successor led the way. But he got his trajectories wrong and ended up like everything else, in a big old black hole. TK-77P hadn’t been surprised when his competitor ended up in the void – only TK-77P had the capacity to get so lucky. Truth be told, his own computations hadn’t been accurate since the year 25-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion BCE, but by chance, he managed to drift in just the right way that no black hole managed to get him. Lucky me, he thought.
 
And so, without much of a plan, on sailed the final voyager of the universe. Of course, TK-77P had calculated the existence of, and identified the means with which one could travel to, every other possible universe in the multiverse. Child’s play it was. However, without any tangible matter nearby, other than his own bulbous head, TK-77P had no way of getting out of his much less exciting world. On a bad century, he would delve deep inside his own mind and look at the quantum realm. He loved observing the vibrating strings that defined reality. He had, in all the time he had been around, figured out a way to charge his circuits in such a way that he could influence the vibrations of quantum strings. This was a delightful discovery until he realised that if he changed any single piece of matter in his circuitry, he would lose the function to change it back. So much for alchemy, he thought.
 
On and on he drifted. Time, as it had always been, was meaningless. After a while, TK-77P managed to accurately recreate in his mind the entirety of the conscious history of the universe. Even though the humans were the only biological creatures that could observe the universe, they made some impressive computers, and those creations made their own, and so on until TK-77P himself came around. He simulated this whole history by running a simple binary program until every instant he had thought up matched exactly with the records he had on file. It took a while, but he really enjoyed the intricacies of making something complex from something simple. For a moment, he forgot about the dullness of the universe and revelled in his creation. He decided, just for his own entertainment, to change the surface layer of atoms on his colourless outer shell. TK-77P managed to materialise a charming little white smiley face on his crust—he was so happy, he didn’t care that there was no other being to observe it, he just wanted to express himself.
 
The universe brightened a little. There, in all the darkness, beamed the final sight to behold: a smile. Along with this new change flooded memories of times gone by. TK-77P remembered how happy the computers that built him had been when he found his first proof of the multiverse, one minute after being created. He remembered being uploaded with data about the ancient biologicals, the creators of intelligence. Things used to be so simple, he thought. Little blips of life, no infinitely enduring existence. TK-77P lusted for such an existence for millions of years until one day; he hit something. With a gentle thud, the largest, and only, super-massive quantum computer came to a complete stop. His sensory instruments fired up and scanned everything that was around him. It wasn’t a black hole, there was no spaghettification or slow crunch of his insides. There was nothing there, but he could not go any further. After making some quick—superbly quick—calculations, TK-77P realised finally that, without a doubt, he must have in fact reached the end of the universe. That was it. He trawled through all the data that had ever been gathered by any intelligent beings; there was no mention of an end to space. With all his power, TK-77P could not begin to fathom how it was possible. For several trillion more millennia, he waited. Waited for some radical piece of information to reveal itself about a new fundamental constraint of his world. Nothing came. There was no possible dimension in which the universe could exist as a finite entity. In the end, he lost hope. The best computer gave up. As his last act as an intelligent being—and, as a result, the last event to take place in the universe—TK-77P turned himself into his favourite human creation, the humble frisbee. And that, as they say, was that.

About the Author: 
I am a Philosophy graduate of the University of Edinburgh, still living in the city, but soon moving to Manchester to begin a degree in International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response and Arabic. Currently, I work in retail by day and write in every moment in between.
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Quantum Theories: A to Z

G is for ...
Gluon

These elementary particles hold together the quarks that lie at the heart of matter.

S is for ...
Schrödinger’s Cat

A hypothetical experiment in which a cat kept in a closed box can be alive and dead at the same time – as long as nobody lifts the lid to take a look.

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Qubit

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Z is for ...
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M is for ...
Many Worlds Theory

Some researchers think the best way to explain the strange characteristics of the quantum world is to allow that each quantum event creates a new universe.

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Quantum biology

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W is for ...
Wave-particle duality

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Planck's Constant

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Y is for ...
Young's Double Slit Experiment

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D is for ...
Dice

Albert Einstein decided quantum theory couldn’t be right because its reliance on probability means everything is a result of chance. “God doesn’t play dice with the world,” he said.

D is for ...
Decoherence

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F is for ...
Free Will

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H is for ...
Hidden Variables

One school of thought says that the strangeness of quantum theory can be put down to a lack of information; if we could find the “hidden variables” the mysteries would all go away.

N is for ...
Nonlocality

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H is for ...
Hawking Radiation

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I is for ...
Information

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E is for ...
Entanglement

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T is for ...
Tunnelling

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U is for ...
Uncertainty Principle

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C is for ...
Clocks

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T is for ...
Time

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G is for ...
Gravity

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B is for ...
Bell's Theorem

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L is for ...
Light

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J is for ...
Josephson Junction

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M is for ...
Maths

Quantum physics is the study of nature at the very small. Mathematics is one language used to formalise or describe quantum phenomena.

T is for ...
Teleportation

Quantum tricks allow a particle to be transported from one location to another without passing through the intervening space – or that’s how it appears. The reality is that the process is more like faxing, where the information held by one particle is written onto a distant particle.

C is for ...
Cryptography

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C is for ...
Computing

The rules of the quantum world mean that we can process information much faster than is possible using the computers we use now.

A is for ...
Alice and Bob

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K is for ...
Key

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O is for ...
Objective reality

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S is for ...
Superposition

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S is for ...
Schrödinger Equation

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Sensors

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A is for ...
Act of observation

Some people believe this changes everything in the quantum world, even bringing things into existence.

R is for ...
Reality

Since the predictions of quantum theory have been right in every experiment ever done, many researchers think it is the best guide we have to the nature of reality. Unfortunately, that still leaves room for plenty of ideas about what reality really is!

B is for ...
Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

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L is for ...
Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

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U is for ...
Universe

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W is for ...
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K is for ...
Kaon

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P is for ...
Probability

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A is for ...
Atom

This is the basic building block of matter that creates the world of chemical elements – although it is made up of more fundamental particles.

I is for ...
Interferometer

Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer

M is for ...
Multiverse

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V is for ...
Virtual particles

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X is for ...
X-ray

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R is for ...
Randomness

Unpredictability lies at the heart of quantum mechanics. It bothered Einstein, but it also bothers the Dalai Lama.

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