Epiphany by Liu Cixin | Book Review

If there’s an opportunity for you to touch the truth, will you give up your life as exchange?

Epiphany is a short science fiction story by famous Chinese author Liu Cixin, whose title comes from a traditional Chinese saying by Confucius, “Having heard the Way in the morning , one may die content in the evening. ” 

This is the highest state of ancient scholars. In order to pursue the truth, they would not hesitate to use their own lives to obtain it. Like moths to the flames, they are trying their best to move towards the light. They don’t know that this is a dead end, but at least they feel extremely satisfied at the process of seeking the light, which they are pursing for their entire lives.

Science fiction of human civilization

Brief introduction of the story

A steel pipe with a diameter of five meters, circles the earth on the 45° north latitude line. This particle accelerator, which is called Einstein’s equator, is the largest accelerator ever built by human beings. Once this machine start, we human will realize the last ultimate goal: to build a grand unified model of the universe.

Ding Yi, a physicists who presided over the construction of this unprecedented project, has dedicated his whole life into physics. The day before the official launch of the particle accelerator, he took his family around the world in the pipeline. After the journey, he returned to the starting point of Einstein’s equator in the Taklimakan Desert – the World Nuclear Center, which is also the control center of the global accelerator.

Tomorrow, the accelerator will run at its maximum energy for the first time, and every particle in it will be propelled by the energy same as a nuclear bomb, and they will accelerate to nearly the speed of light, which is an exciting thing.

However, when he woke up, he and his colleagues were extremely surprised that the accelerator pipeline traversed the desert that he was familiar with had disappeared, and was replaced by a green grass belt that stretched to the horizon in both east and west directions.

Just when they thought they were dreaming, at the end of the green grass belt, a man floated towards them clinging to the grass, a man who claimed to be the danger-seeker of this universe.

He told Ding Yi and the others that the accelerator had been vaporized last night. If the accelerator was really running at maximum power, it could accelerate particles to 20 square of 10 electron volts, which is close to the energy of the Big Bang, which may give their universe Bringing the catastrophe of vacuum decay.

As early as 300 million years ago, human beings have been noticed by them. They danger-seeker monitor the progress of the human civilization and prevent the earth from taking irreversible risks while exploring the mysteries of the universe, causing serious consequences.

That is to say, the earth will never be able to obtain the grand unified model, and it will never be possible to probe into the ultimate mystery of the universe.

The Galaxy

The danger-seeker offered a choice. He will answer any questions includes the truth to the universe but the audiences will lose their lives as exchange.

In this case, Ding Yi and other scientists chose to exchange their lives to obtain the truth. They solemnly walked to the altar of truth. After learning the answer they were all yearning for, they were overwhelmed with excitement.

Ten minutes later, every scientist who stepped onto the altar turned into balls of fire, annihilating between heaven and earth.

About the truth

Ever since we human started to think, the pursuit of the truth has never stopped. In the process of seeking, some people give up halfway, some people cling to death, and some people achieve themselves and gain infinite glory. As an result of endless exploration, our civilization continues to progress. Simultaneously, the closer we are to the truth, the more we realize our insignificance.

It is hard to tell which one is more valuable, life or truth. For this illusory truth of the universe, scientists pay for things that can be seen and touched, including not only their own lives, but also other human civilizations praised and cherished, such as love, such as family , such as family affection, and even the courage to sacrifice for the country.


Are these really worth it? Pascal has a famous saying, thought forms the greatness of man, man is insignificant in the universe, but with thought, he becomes immortal. A person always has to realize his own existence first, but when he realizes his own existence, it means he realizes the existence that does not belong to him.

Curiosity is an unstoppable human nature. Through science, the greatest human endeavor, people can still enjoy spiritual freedom even when locked in a nut shell. We think, so we exists.

My favorite part of the whole article is where the danger-seeker are explaining when they noticed Earth Civilization. Look back into human history, scientists guessed it was the era of Planck, the era of Aristotle.

But the danger-seeker just denied and told them that everything was much earlier than this.

So people looked at the video from hundreds of thousands of years ago, and at the moment when a primitive man looked up at the effulgent starry sky, the warning system of the danger-seeker began to ring. People were amazed, and the risk taker explained: “Is this difficult to understand? When life realizes the existence of the mystery of the universe, it is only one step away from finally solving the mystery.”

When people had completely solved their problem of surviving, and when love disappears due to the alienation and fusion of individuals, and when art finally dies due to its excessive refinement and obscurity, the pursuit of the ultimate beauty of the universe becomes the only sustenance for the existence of civilization.

Because the pursuit of the ultimate truth of the universe is the ultimate goal of every civilization.

Starry sky

The danger-seeker also state another fact that this universe we human lives is not the first universe but a rebirth one.

All civilizations of the last universe agreed to risk the vacuum decay to make a creation-level experiment to solve the grand unified model of the universe. This experiment destroyed the entire universe, and the danger-seeker received the grand unification model derived by the last civilization one second before its demise.

“The Nebula Civilization lifted the veil of the universe, but they themselves were destroyed before they could glimpse the ultimate beauty of the universe. What’s more respectable is that they may have thought of this possibility before starting the experiment. Still they sacrificing themselves, sending those data that contain the ultimate secrets of the universe to civilizations in the distant future.”

And they will never be the last civilization to destroy itself, because every civilization will eventually go to this fate, and one day, the civilization of the earth will also reach this stage, and all civilizations in this universe will also come together. At this stage, they agreed to explore a more ultimate purpose.

Even if they are waiting for death, they will not afraid.

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