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What 42 Means

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The number 42 is often used as a universal answer to vague questions that don’t have a normal explanation. In his book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, writer Douglas Adams stirred up a community of people that liked conspiracy theories and secret messages.

We at 5-Minute Crafts found out what the author himself thought about the number 42, and we’ve also prepared several interesting facts about this number.

The answer to “the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything”

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, intelligent races wanted to find out the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. They believed that the answer would solve all of their problems.

Specifically for this, they created a super-powerful computer, Deep Thought. In order to collect all the data and do all the necessary calculations, it needed 7.5 million years. Everything was thoroughly checked for mistakes.

The answer was 42. When the creators of the computer were angry about this strange answer, the computer said the question itself wasn’t specific enough. As a compromise, another computer was invented to find the “question.”

There are a lot of different theories about why the author chose this specific number. In 1993, Douglas Adams himself said during a USENET-conference (in alt.fan.douglas-adams), “The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base 13, and Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden, and thought, ’42 will do.’ I typed it out. End of story.”

Other facts about 42

  • In Tale of the Troika, by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, a certain electronic machine for solving scientific, sociological, and other problems was under the number 42. The book was written in 1968, 11 years before The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • It’s impossible for an observer to see a rainbow from water droplets at any angle other than the customary one of 42.
  • The DNA sequence present in all vertebrates is this: TTTAATTGAAAGAAGTTAATTGAATGAAAATGATCAACTAAG. It’s 42 symbols and is called the “Meaning of Life.”
  • Adult dogs have 42 teeth.
  • Lewis Carroll, who was also a mathematician, often mentioned the number 42. Additionally, this was the exact number of illustrations in the first version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

💡 Tip: When using Google Calculator, type: “The answer to life the universe, and everything,” and it will say 42.

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