In 1975, Stephen Hawking showed that the principles of quantum mechanics would mean that a black hole emits a slow stream of particles and would eventually evaporate.
"Are you ready to go?" Warren called, straightening his coat.
"Almost," Nell replied.
Warren sighed. He knew what that meant. Nell might be ready soon, but Nell might not. He turned and began to scan the room.
Warren liked order, and being idle drove him crazy. That meant being alone in Nell's living room was a kind of low-level purgatory. Without conscious thought, he began to straighten. He started small, re-stacking the magazines on the table with the largest on the bottom and the covers all facing the same direction.
He took a step toward the bookshelves, but paused when the couch drew his attention. He fluffed the pillows, arranged them in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing fashion, and stepped back. Something was still off.
Ah. He leaned toward the offending something on one couch cushion. " Nell?" He called. "Do you have a pet? A cat or something?"
He reached forward to brush the offending hairs off, only to find they weren't hairs at all. At first he thought there had been some sort of spill, something that had left a splash of particles across the cushion. However, when his hand touched them, they appeared to smooth out under his hand, like they were just a wave in the fabric of the cushion.
"That's a funny story," Nell answered. "To be honest, I don't know."
"What?" Warren blinked. How could she not know?
There was no way in Warren's universe for that to be true, so eventually, he just asked, "How can you not know if you have a cat or not?" I can't believe I'm asking this. Things used to be so simple…
Nell emerged from a different room than Warren had thought, saying, "It's kind of hard to explain. It's easier to just show you. And me. Would you open that box?"
Nell gestured to what Warren had thought was an end table.
Agreeably, he bent down to examine the box in question. There was no latch, but from this angle he could see a slit he'd previously missed. He carefully moved the magazines he'd just straightened and opened the box.
"Well?" Nell asked. "Do I have a cat?"