It's a short story that I read in an anthology a few years ago.

The premise is several scientists are preparing to go to Geneva to accept the Nobel Prize for their work in astrophysics. But one of the members drops out after talking with a previous group member. One by one they all quit when they realize the acceleration of the expansion of the universe they discovered isn't dark energy but the Earth or the universe in the event horizon of a black hole. With this realization came the knowledge that everyone on Earth is going to die, so they decided to spend time with family instead of going to accept the prize.

  • 4
    The fantastic aspect is that they refuse the prize?
    – user14111
    Jul 9, 2019 at 9:30
  • 6
    Earth or the Universe being in the event horizon of a black hole isn't accepted science to me. Sure, the latter is a theory proposed by some physicists, but observations confirming it are in the realm of science fiction, and the former is simply not accurate.
    – Adamant
    Jul 9, 2019 at 9:48
  • Another similar story that might interest you is Dark Matter, done by the podcast The Truth.
    – Zack
    Jul 9, 2019 at 18:41
  • 2
    Is it the Nobel Prize in Physics, which is awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, or a different prize that is awarded in Geneva, Switzerland? Or is the story set in a fictional universe in which Sweden has conquered Switzerland and decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics in Geneva?
    – user89356
    Jul 9, 2019 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


The story is What Did Tessimond Tell You by Adam Roberts. I read it in the Solaris Rising 1.5 ebook.

The story starts:

THE NOBEL WAS in the bag, and we were only a fortnight from our public announcement, when Niu Jian told he was quitting. I assumed it was a joke. But Niu Jian had never been a practical joker; and of course he wasn’t kidding now. The sunlight picked out the grain of his tweed jacket. He was sitting in my office with his crescent back to the window, and I kept getting distracted by the light coming through the glass. Morningtime, morningtime, and all the possibilities of the day ahead of us. The chimney of the boilerhouse was as white and straight as an unsmoked cigarette. The students wandered the paths and dawdled on the grass with their arms around one another’s shoulders. Further down the hill you could see the cars doing their crazy corpuscle impressions along the interchange and away along the dual carriageway. “You want to quit—now?” I said. “Now is the time you want to quit?"

Niu Jian decides to quit after speaking to the eponymous professor Tessimond who explains:

“Your theory,” I said again, in a just-so-as-we’re-clear voice, “is that the reason we move along the arrow of time the way we do is that we’re being drawn towards a supermassive temporal black hole?"

and then:

I looked at him, feeling distant from myself. “When we reach the actual temporal event horizon,” I said, “tidal forces will rip us apart.”

“Or rip time apart,” he said, nodding slowly. “Yes. Of course, that amounts to the same thing.”


“You’ve got the equations there,” he said, looking at my phone as it lay, like a miniature 2001 monolith, flat on the table. “But it’s hard to be precise. The scale is fourteen billion years; the calculation tolerances are not seconds, or even days. Years. I calculated seven years, plus or minus four. That was a decade ago."

The story ends:

Of course I never flew to Stockholm. Why would I waste three days away from my child? None of that matters.

  • 2
    Thats the one! Thanks! I never remember the name, but I always want to tell people about it!
    – user118508
    Jul 9, 2019 at 11:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.