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Number 42 in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

Updated on March 27, 2013
Number 42
Number 42 | Source

Is there anyone who hasn't heard for this magical number? During the time it became very strong symbol for modern generation and our sarcastic life philosophy.

Douaglas Adams did a great work with this simple idea. I don't know where did he found inspiration for his story, but creating the 'Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything' really taught us something interesting.

As you probably know, one part of this hilarious book is dedicated to explanation of the biggest question of the life: what's the point if there is one at all? And because so many great philosophers in the history failed to answer this question, human kind has only one option if they want to find out the reason of our life and existence - the supercomputer. And as any computer scientist knows, good thing about computers is that they always gives us some kind of feedback. But, that's not always something that we would like or even understand.

So, in his funny manner, Adams presented us the answer on the ultimate question. But that wasn't the answer that we expected, but absurd peace of information that couldn't be embedded in a context, and therefore, a supercomputer realized that all of it's effort was pointless, because humankind didn't really know what the question was in the first place. And I think that Adams' intention with this part of this book was to point out that some questions shouldn't be answered. Not just because it's impossible to give an answer, but also because if knew it, life would be so indescribably boring and pointless.

Finding the answer and reason for something as complicated and abstract as the life itself, should be something that we can't understand. We shouldn't be able to create that question in our minds actually. Because, when we came out with some important question, it usually sound dumb like: 'Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything, and that's something that even the supercomputer can't process in the correct way. So, this computer decided to create another one, in order to find out a better question which will lead us to the more logical answer. And that is the typical example of the question of chicken and the egg. If you have the answer, you will need the question, and vice versa.

So, just for a second, imagine that you know the answer to the ultimate question. What would your life look like? Imagine that the reason is something irrelevant to you. What will you do? Douaglas Adams, in his funny manner, gave us something to thing about, to laugh at, and something that we can't understand and can't make understandable. I think that he did us a favor.


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    • diplorging profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Serbia

      Thanks for your interesting new information :)

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 

      8 years ago from Northern California

      Hi Sofija,

      Some Northern California hikers and history buffs have found another meaning for this famous number. Milepost 42 on Highway 50 marks the beginning of an historic Pony Express hike. The trail is parallel to, and just a little bit North of the highway.

      Back in the early 1860s, Pony Express riders and their horses carried mail between St Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. The distance was 3200 km. And they covered it in 10 days each way!

      Local history enthusiasts have lovingly maintained a small segment of that famous trail. This history hike is in the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, East of Sacramento. I even wrote a hub about it.

      Voted up (and beautiful) for 42 reasons!

    • goetzkluge profile image

      Goetz Kluge 

      9 years ago from Germany

      Lewis Carroll (aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) used the Number "42" in his writings:


      From "The Hunting of the Snark" ( )


      025 He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,

      026 With his name painted clearly on each:

      027 But, since he omitted to mention the fact,

      028 They were all left behind on the beach.


      029 The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because

      030 He had seven coats on when he came,

      031 With three pairs of boots—but the worst of it was,

      032 He had wholly forgotten his name.


      033 He would answer to “Hi!” or to any loud cry,

      034 Such as “Fry me!” or “Fritter my wig!”

      035 To “What-you-may-call-um!” or “What-was-his-name!”

      036 But especially “Thing-um-a-jig!”


      037 While, for those who preferred a more forcible word,

      038 He had different names from these:

      039 His intimate friends called him “Candle-ends,”

      040 And his enemies “Toasted-cheese.”


      One only can guess what the "42" could mean. To the Reverend Dodgson, who did not subscribe to the 39 Articles of his faith, there surely was a meaning: Thomas Cranmer's 42 Articles.

      In the year 1556 Thomas Cranmer was burned at the stake.


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