A collection of New Horizons images here.
Most of the universe's existence will take place after the last star has died.
— Hermetic Typewriter (@hermes9000) September 16, 2015
The Post-Stelliferous Era (the “Degenerate Era” as it is irreverently labeled) is expected to last at least a thousand times as long as the luminous phases — for a quintillion years or more — so it offers a lot to think about.
Some examples from illustrious names. The challenge was defined by Hemingway’s six word story “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” (Twitter is unnecessarily spacious for them.)
Neal Stephenson does it best:
Tick tock tick tock tick tick.
Pynchon in Cow Country?
Hmm. Somewhere I have heard of an author as reclusive as J.D. Salinger (who has no further need to defend his privacy). No, not the Italian Elena Ferrante (also a pseudonymous invention), but an American. Rather than face what he (assuming the gender itself is not fictional) calls “a false and destructive system” that is nonetheless “a reality of our world,” Pearson notes that his response is to “manufacture disposable authorial personae for every book,” making each one earn its own way rather than piggybacking on whatever reputation a previous title may have earned its author. … […] … The great Portuguese poet and novelist Fernando Pessoa created what he called heteronyms, alter egos or personas that allowed him to write as “them” instead of himself, a liberating and fruitful creative approach, he found. It is possible that something akin to that is going on here, if the same sensibility is behind both names, and that freeing oneself and one’s book from the connotation-heavy name seemed a good idea. However, Pessoa’s heteronyms are characters in his fiction — they express themselves and feel and act as personas — and that is not the case with Pearson, who, except outside the novel as his reality is created online, is merely a name affixed to Cow Country. So far.
Buried deep in the Siberian permafrost and untouched for over 30,000 years, researchers have discovered what is thought to be the newest representative of what are loosely known as “giant viruses.” … after more than 30,000 years embedded in ancient permafrost, when Claverie and Abergel exposed amoebas in their lab to the virus, they found that the virus was still active and quickly infected the host cell. “We use amoeba on purpose as a safe bait for capturing viruses. We then immediately verify that they are not able to infect animal/human cells,” stressed the researchers. … “Among known viruses, the giant viruses tend to be very tough, almost impossible to break open,” said Claverie and Abergel. “Special environments such as deep ocean sediments and permafrost are very good preservers of microbes [and viruses] because they are cold, anoxic [lacking oxygen], and in the dark.”
Classic fungal number horror from Stephen King’s ‘Gray Matter’:
What we saw in that one or two seconds will last me a liftetime — or whatever’s left of it. It was a huge gray wave of jelly, jelly that looked like a man, and leaving a trail of slime behind it.
But that wasn’t the worst. Its eyes were flat and yellow and wild, with no human soul in ’em. Only there weren’t two. There were four, an’ right down the center of the thing, betwixt the two pairs of eyes, was a white, fibrous line with a kind of pulsing pink flesh showing through like a slit in a hog’s belly.
It was dividing you see. Dividing in two.
Bertie and I didn’t say nothing to each other going back to the store. I don’t know what was going through his mind, but I know well enough what was in mine: the multiplication table. Two times two is four, four times two is eight, eight times two is sixteen, sixteen times two is —
We got back. Carl and Bill Pelham jumped up and started asking questions right off. We wouldn’t answer, neither of us. We just turned around and wondered if Henry was going to walk in outta the snow. I was up to 32,768 times two is the end of the human race …