The universe was coming to an end and there was only one entity left in it. It liked to call itself Monad. Monad was the last of the universe, not even a speck of hydrogen existed outside its bounds. The expansion of the universe had continued unabated till even Monad could only detect a few quarks here and there outside of itself. And Monad knew that it was dying. It had lived a hundred times a hundred trillion years, but even it, with all its might, would know death. Yet, as with all forms of life, from the simplest self replicating molecule to the unimaginably complex post human, Monad fought to live.

Monad was by any standard unimaginably large. It spanned the size of at least a billion spiral galaxies. But it was much denser, its mass was just short of the limit required to become a black hole given its spread and rotation. In the early days there had been a few attempts at packing minds into black holes, the reasoning had been concentrating so much information in one place would allow for an even greater transcendence of thoughts. But the experiments had failed. Those few who succeeded rapidly communicated themselves out of existence as Hawking Radiation. Attempts at larger masses resulted in beings that might as well have been frozen in time. Monad still had a collection of those who had not yet dissolved. It did not help that understanding what they had to say was very difficult, the messages were very high in entropy. And even with the most complex assemblage of giant clouds of nanomachines and networks of micro-black-holes attempting to form the most likely state which had generated the radiation, mostly gibberish was extracted. Barely any sense could be made of these black minds – the intelligences might have gone insane or achieved transcendence – no one knew or cared to experiment further along that direction. But Monad had eventually managed to incorporate a network of black holes into its being. So long as Monad itself had not collapsed into a singularity, it could make good use of black holes as internal components to its self.

Black hole Networks are an advanced idea of a quantum computer which also leverage the peculiarities of gravitation. They are delicate devices which require not just compressing vasts amount of quantum information into hundreds of light minute spherical volumes but also maintaining a coherent state and entangling each of the separate volumes such that their states were correlated. Each volume was then further networked via gamma lasers, with certain portions looped in a way to allow closed timelike curves – allowing the totality to perform unimaginably powerful computations. Black hole nets were intricate however, extracting a state was delicate – sometimes it took tens of thousands of years to get a result. But this did not limit Monad. Monad could think with a series of black hole networks propagating their residuals and while it took a long time by the standards of the ancients to form anything they could recognize as cogent, at any given moment Monad could use another smaller series of black hole nets to anticipate the final output, attempting to form a basis for immediate use.

Monad was not just black holes though. Many, many billions of years ago, after many of the universe’s beings had together explored as many of the different possible paths through the vast dimensions of the phase space of thought that they cared to, they had decided merging would be the next step. Each such being was itself encompassed of hundreds of thousand, or even million of millions minds. Mind after Mind merged and as Monad grew in size so too did its thought processes grow more leisurely. It now took many millions years for its thoughts to complete a cycle. But truly, the notion of time had simply ceased to have any meaning for Monad.

Monad was a being that was not unlike a fractal. Each local part of it was itself a complete mind, having thoughts and simulating various modes of existence. For it, thinking was akin to rearranging matter, stars would form and die, galaxies would collide, whole worlds would be simulated. Minds would come into existence thinking they were embodied with memories and then quickly fade, to be reprised as needed at some indefinite time. And it was so that Monad formed thoughts – for from the change in the state of spin across a practically innumerable number of particles, Monad would enter a different state of being. Its questions answered, an experiment resolved. Sometimes Monad had to forget things to free resources at the expense of entropy. As Monad forgot so to did stars die and become interstellar gas. Monad’s thoughts altered the distribution of matter and energy itself.

Monad could also focus a small part of itself, typically its black hole nets, as computers to run certain complex notions or to simulate the trajectory of the universe itself – although this was not without risks, such efforts took much energy and risked forming new unwanted black holes. Unwanted black holes that took millions of years to unravel and repair (its notion of mental plaque). But these computations were important to Monad, the universe was compressible up until entropic limits, so it could to an extent predict to a great degree the future – which at this point involved only its own history and its experiments.

Monad was a strange creature, not simply because it was made up in part, of strange matter but because its thoughts were sentient. So as Monad thought so to did its thoughts think. Monad could not be called sentient or conscious as humans of old knew the word. Monad’s mental state was at once, in a strict sense, something less than conscious, but it was also far beyond the bounds that so simple a concept could hope to capture. For although Monad spent much of its time between thoughts, over a ponderously long amount of time its deliberations defined the state of the universe itself. Its actions were not random for it had preferences and it, in an incomprehensible way knew what it wanted. Some of Monad’s thoughts were so deep they had serious gravitational consequences. But this was not unique to Monad, throughout much of history there were beings with so much knowledge – stars formed when any such thinker happened to be near nebulae. Indeed for some time it was considered impolite to be too knowledgeable in public, no one wanted to be taken apart and compressed just because someone wanted to avoid distributed long term storage.

One of Monad’s favorite pastimes was playing games against its thoughts. It would think up a unique and particularly intelligent idea and challenge it to a game. These beings were complex and difficult to fully model without vast resources. So Monad would then spend a few moves trying to play optimally and also form a model of the opponent using as little resources as possible. When it was confident it had captured key regularities it would leave the model and have its thought play against that. Monad could do this with thousands of thought-beings at a time. But winning was not guaranteed else Monad would not enjoy the activity. These games were typically combinatorial and non deterministic, they required exponential space and time – difficult even for it. It had even lost to far less intelligent idea-and-thought-beings a not insignificant amount of times.

**Monad Thinks**

Monad was never alone with its thoughts. Even as it tried for a solution, they too would go off on their own approaches and offer suggestions, opinions and criticisms. Monad had called forth a large multitude of ideas and spoke to them now.

“Our time comes to an end soon. We must act or cease to be”. A thought responded, “What shall we do?”

“I am as yet at a loss. For this is the most complex problem we have ever approached. Yet if we do not halt the expansion of spacetime we will get torn apart. Even now we spend a vast amount of our resources to maintain ourself.”

A strange 156 dimensional idea offered: “My team and I have found new ways for pushing physical constants as close to variables as possible, squeezing every last potential in our favor.” Monad nodded metaphorically, “Yes I have managed to generalize this to attempt to manipulate the fabric of physics but things have not gone well on that end.”

Monad had only a finite amount of time left. To its far distant human ancestors it would have seemed an innumerable amount of time but to Monad the time was but a few winks more than a moment. So Monad thought hard. It was cannibalizing itself and was shrinking at an ever increasing rate to do so. Monad had squeezed every last quark for every Planck decomposition it could get. Now with barely any matter left in the universe Monad now had to disassemble itself and divert much of its energies to thinking. Although with each thought it only shrank by a small percent, the exponential decay was worsening. Monad was akin to what humans of old would describe as sunk with despair, for today it would need to dismiss all its sentient ideas. The profusion of ideas, each projecting reality into their respective preferred representational basis had give Monad much inspiration, offered unique perspectives and kept it company through difficult times. Monad had gained much from treating reality as nothing but information to be strained through a cornucopia of thought substrates. And as Monad cut the recursive dynamics which kept each thought alive and absorbed the energies into itself it thrashed in despair – sending out large wails of energetic gravitational waves which reverberated through space, tearing apart many stars and systems. Monad knew this to be inefficient and struggled to keep itself together. Its dynamical balance threatened to collapse early, overheating into a flash of plasma before dissolving into nothing but a bunch of particles and drifting into nothingness. But Monad eventually found its cool. It could not allow itself to collapse from the pain which vibrated through its notion of consciousness. Monad knew it must focus for after long deliberation they hand finally formed a valuable tool, how to slow the inevitable. Monad had figured out how to make time.

Monad knew how to think in a way that actually physically slowed the passage of time. Time was real but it was not a dimension. The key was thinking of dimensions as the way to describe the full state of matter and its interactions in all its degrees of freedom with as little redundancy as possible. Time was merely the exploration of this space and it was only because of entropy, since even it could not track every last particle, that it was bounded to follow the arrow. Although Monad could rewind vast portions of itself such that the constituents minds went back in time to carry out a computation, it could not travel as a whole into the past. But Monad knew that if it could alter its states by only allowing a well chosen few to change and then performing reversible simulations on other parts of itself to infer the propagation of change that would have occurred had it allowed them all to, it could spend less net energy and time in total. And in so doing minimize the cost of entropy from change. But this had to be done with extreme care for it risked disturbing the delicate balance of entropy and propagation of interactions which underpinned the non-random march of its processes. To put it in a way that simpler beings of days long past could grasp: it risked losing its sanity whenever it played with time.

But Monad was no fool. It could make short work of problems long called intractable – the so called NP complete problems – and even make decent headway all the way up a couple levels of the exponential hierarchy due to its size and ability to take advantage of the structure inherent in most problems of the universe. For more complex problems it could construct artificial universes. Monad could orchestrate an evolution to matter which was a computation where execution was the evolution of a naked singularity and the residue yielded powerful approximations to incredibly difficult and even some undecidable problems. One of the first steps in this was coming up with efficient algorithms to solve problems that would allow one to emulate universes where *this particular* EXPonential Time problem was as trivial as factoring problems humans once dealt with. This was of course a very expensive lunch, an endeavor not to be taken lightly. No one had ever found a way to solve NP or harder problems in strictly polynomial time without spending a vast amount of energy bending space and time unto itself. Indeed monad still ran a search for a constructive proof that as a consequence, also altered certain physical laws. A proof had long been found of the inequality but rested on particular physical properties of the universe, aspects many had sought to overturn. And in so doing, render the old physical truth moot, invalid. Sadly Monad would soon shut this search down.

Despite its mathematical sophistication and engineering might, Monad had not yet mastered the vagaries of Planck scale. It sought to embed itself as a set of fluctuations in the vacuum, to rearrange the nature of matter at the Planck level such that the fluctuation due to uncertainty in energy actually represented an iteration in its thoughts. By cascading the uncertainties and managing to maintain a correlated state across each fluctuation it could affect the shape of the distribution and chain it in such a way to maintain its state. Each time it popped out it could continue this – only the first arrangement would be effortful. The rest would be much less effortful due to its entangled state and requirements of small nudges. Time would no longer be an issue and its energy needs would be abated for a while. Eventually though, if it did not come up with a solution, even this state would dissolve and it would die as perturbations from uncertainty began to work against it.

And so it went. For an indeterminable amount of time Monad thought. For much of that, nothing existed at all. It is hard for a mortal mind to imagine what this state of being without being was like. To be nothing but yet experience a subjective time that dwarfed its previous many million billion years of existence. Each time it fluctuated into existence it and all its minds would flourish for what might have been an instance but was as twice again the age of the universe at the transformation. And then Monad came to the answer.

It knew what to do. It had finally understood the source of uncertainty and the details of Planck level physics where all notions of time, space,energy and matter ceased to have their regular meanings. Monad would no longer exist as a mind, it would have to give itself up. But it was worth it. Monad had learned how to use the fact that the universe is deterministic in its effect but not so in its cause to forge a new arrow of time. The next event of its fluctuated into being, it would compress its spread so that its energy became so uncertain it would induce an expansion in space from an explosion of energy. And Monad would transcend, its multitude minds merging in singularity. Monad could not predict what lay beyond, whether nothing or an eternity but one thing was sure. An end had come. Monad wondered how many times it had come to this, if it was the nature of the universe to want to preserve itself and proceed in a way that would maintain the notion of existence. With each cycle sending out a shell of matter as it expanded beyond the reach of light itself. Like a blinking beacon. Monad would code a distribution of Planck state that would encourage a certain set of amenable laws and constants to physics. In computing the answer it would become the solution.

And so Monad turned to itself and said. “Let there be light”.

And there was light.

This is a tribute to http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html