Not long before the end

by ChessBase
3/11/2003 – Here at we receive a lot of mail. Usually it is about general subjects and topical news. Occasionally we receive very personal messages from people asking for assistance. Today there was a message in our inbox from a very depressed grandmaster. We share his poignant missive with you. Perhaps someone out there will find some words of reassurance.

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The message was from GM John Nunn, a world-class Grandmaster, one of the most highly acclaimed chess writers in the world, and a also one of the world's finest problem solvers. Many of you will remember him from our Christmas puzzles, especially on December 30 and December 31. John lives with his wife Petra and their son Michael in a country-side house just outside London.

We bring you John's entire message, unabridged and unedited. We have only added the picture.

-----Original Message-----
From: John Nunn
Sent: 11 March 2003 16:35
To: Frederic Friedel
Subject: Not long before the end

Dear Frederic,

I'm feeling very depressed at the moment.

The cause of this depression is an article suggesting that there may be only 22 billion years to go until the end of the universe. Obviously this is much lower than previous estimates, which gave us at least 100 billion years until the death of the last star and a lot longer after that until proton decay leads to the disintegration of all matter.

The low estimate results from an assumption about the 'negative energy' that appears to permeate the cosmos. As you probably know, the latest observations indicate that the expansion of the universe, far from decelerating, is actually speeding up. This effect is ascribed to 'negative energy' which has an anti-gravitational effect stronger than the mutual gravitational attraction of all the matter in the universe. If one assumes that this negative energy is gradually becoming stronger, then we may only have 22 billion years to go until the anti-gravitational effect becomes so strong that all matter in the universe would spontaneously disrupt.

This means we are almost half-way to the end! What can one achieve in only 22 billion years?

Please tell me something to alleviate my depression.

Best wishes,
John Nunn

  • If you want to know more about this troubling state of affairs you can read this article at
  • If you have any comforting words for John please mail us. We will pass them on to the depressed grandmaster.


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