Talk:Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything/Archive 2

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WikiProject iconHitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (inactive)
WikiProject iconThis article is within the scope of WikiProject Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a project which is currently considered to be inactive.


Because of their length, the previous discussions on this page have been archived. If further archiving is needed, see Wikipedia:How to archive a talk page.

Previous discussions:

Change in Layout[edit]

What if the page just says "42" and then there's a link or a redirect to another article explaining it? Too me, that kind of simplistic understatement would seem more in line with the joke's original context.

It might fit the joke, but it's not encyclopedic. --JohnDBuell 18:16, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Math markup[edit]

What is the big deal with leaving a math markup at the end of the document to explain the C code that preceeds it? Have we declared war on math markup suddenly? --JohnDBuell 18:08, 3 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cryptographers' Joke[edit]

Why has it no place in the article? After all, the 1+5*9+1 has, in what way is this any different? CMIIW 20:48, 11 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Going by the HTML comment at the start of the article, it just didn't seem like it fit. If you still think it does, go ahead and put it back - we can both let another editor decide. Fair? --JohnDBuell 20:51, 11 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, the thing is that maybe Douglas Adams chose 42 through subconcious of his own name, or maybe he decided to commemorate himself in his book and then thought - no, that's too cocky, I'll pretend I made it up. Anyway, though people often say unpleasant things about numerologists (a group to which I don't actually feel I belong), I first worked out Douglas - Adams = 41, then on noticing that the subtracted Adams was 38 realized that D. Adams must be 42. That was all I worked out, so I did not spend ages searching for something that would fit. I think it belongs, but before I revert I am willing first to discuss it, so that if I'm wrong I may hopefully realise. Oh, and just to show how weird the world is, in a recent Ham Radio contest I scored 43. I was slightly miffed at the last one working me in the last minute or so. But I didn't refuse to work him - I'm not some 42ology fanatic. CMIIW 21:13, 11 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's a nice coincidence, but it's only a coincidence. There DOES exist a radio interview where he stated that he realized that the joke had to be that he could summarize The Answer into a number, and then just had to choose a number. He ruled out odd numbers, integer numbers, then remembered that John Cleese had faced a similar decision when making one of his Video Arts training films - to make a long story short (too late!), Adams said he vaguely remembered that Cleese decided the funniest number to hear a banker come up with after having ignored a customer would be "42." Adams reused it, and the rest, as Henry Ford would say, is more or less bunk (yes I just pinched another joke there). --JohnDBuell 21:19, 11 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't mean to disgrace Adams, as he is one of (IMHO) the best writers I have come across, but how do we know that he really didn't have a question, and then regret it because it was immodest, rude, sick, insensitive or any one of a wide variety of other reasons? It need not be a coincidence. (Anyway, when one talks about coincidences relating to h2g2, one must consider that two of the islands on Damogran are called Easter Island and France, and what Adams has to say about that). My point though is fundamentally: It is every bit as relevant and notable as the computer programmers' SIX * NINE thing. Once a precedent has been set, either follow the precedent, or don't, but apply rulings universally. If 1+5*8+1 is relevant and notable, then so is D. Adams = 42. Surely? CMIIW 21:39, 11 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"D. Adams = 42" is something that was made up just recently by you, which is the very essence of non-notability. If you want consistency, look in the history of this talk page for other people who have been desperate to find some meaning in the number 42 who also didn't get their ideas in the article. By the way, what you're doing isn't cryptography by any stretch, it's numerology.
Also, if the stupid computer programmers' "joke" is what's encouraging this stuff, that sounds to me like a great reason to take it out of the article.
rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 23:09, 11 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, if two people say it's bad and no-one but me likes it, ok then, keep D. Adams=42 out, and keep 1+5*8+1 out as well. But I didn't say this was numerology, I said it was a cryptographers' joke. Few people other than cryptographers assign numeric values by alphabetical order. Numerologists (and kabbalists) tend to use the Hebrew or Greek number systems where a=1 b=2 etc but j=10 k=20 l=30 and so eg Sadam (with one daled) is in the Hebrew system 60+1+4+1+600=666. That's numerology. D. Adams=42 is neither cryptography nor numerology, it's just a bit of clean amusement, and I did indeed consider it acceptable because of the computer programmers' joke. CMIIW 17:02, 12 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I just wanted to mention that the article is much better without the math joke and the cryptographer's joke. --Yath 04:14, 13 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have transwikia-ed it to Adhocipedia!!! It's a scratchpad wikia for anything Wikipedia says is not notable enough. CMIIW 19:52, 23 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Has anyone related the number 42 to the number of pips on a pair of dice? Given the nature of metaphor in philosophical inquiry ("God does not play dice with the cosmos," etc), I would think this would be a fairly reasonable association. Ensiform 20:20, 23 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, it's come up before, and been removed. --JohnDBuell 20:32, 23 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why is it left with the answer from afda when the most widely accepted (and documented) one is the link to the John Cleese video arts one? I read afda around the time the post was made and it was very much posted just to shut people up as there had been so much speculation in the froup. I don't think he really meant it and most people didn't believe it. Gusty42 14:09, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

Because no one has taken the time to get exact quotations off of the recording and cite them correctly? --JohnDBuell 15:42, 24 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Added a summary of the interview that discussed this. I could transcribe exactly if that would be appropriate. The first recording referenced was also available on CD but I don't have an ISBN number for it.Gusty42 17:04, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
A full transcription would be certain copyright violation. I did a slight cleanup (I'd looked before when working on the radio series page, and as far as I can tell the interviewer's last name is Johnstone with an e). --JohnDBuell 20:02, 24 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Final Countdown[edit]

Ok, now that I've remembered my password: I've fought for "Where does it all end?" for a few years now, so I've re-added it. Please think it through before deleting. Virtually anything can be tied to 42, and while "Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish" is most certainly Douglas Adams' bible-code style cryptographic reference to the upcoming sequal to Ford Fairlane starring Leonard Nimoy and Pauly Shore, I'd hesitate to think that even he could fail to see the connection between the very last use of the number in the entire series and the only question a cynic need ever ask. Michaelmovies 22:59, 23 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why try to interpret 6*9=42?[edit]

Maybe I'm taking this too literally, but is it really likely that the reason for Douglas Adams saying that 6*9=42 is anything more than him saying that the universe is fundamentally flawed? Not really a suggestion for the article though...

Or maybe it is? Maybe it could be rephrased more cynically about the other suggestions? Sven945 23:53, 26 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I hope not. I always assumed that the Earth-computer had come up with a garbled answer because the Golgafrinchans had mucked things up by replacing the original inhabitants. The deeper interpretation seems unnecessary and strained. --Yath 06:32, 27 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I thought the Golgafrinchans died away between The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Unless Arthur's comment "History says they must have survived..." was serious, that is.--MasterDS 19:34, 10 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If you do it in base 13, then it does equal 42...-BlakJak664 00:07, 4 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The joke in the original radio episode/book is pretty clearly meant to be that the Earth's entire existence had been a waste of time because the question had gotten cocked up. Since Adams later states no-one can know both answer and question, this is the only explanation that fits.

The Answer is Impossible[edit]

The whole series may be a joke - that would fit pretty well with the whole thing. It is possible that Adams gave a stupid answer with no question, just to, as it where, piss us off. The point of the series may be that it is impossible to know the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything, because, after you do, the universe (Or your universe, as Arthur discovered in Life, the Universe and Everything; like Descartes, the universe is only what you make of it) is destroyed, which is why the planed Earth was destroyed all those times.

Nah, it's ultimately the former. Im a bell(Don't ask) 23:55, 20 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Just a useless piece of trivia:-

I once actually wrote a (fairly epic)love poem titled "42" based on the "Answer to life, the universe and everything" (as at that point in my life the girl in question meant just that to me). The structure of it was that every line seemed contradictory in some way. I'd post it on here but it probably wouldn't be appropriate and the only copy I had has been lost through the mists of time. Strangely I can remember the last verse though...

The past as it will be. The present as it was then. The future as it is now.

(AMD, England).

A bit more useless trivia:

Google lists this article as being 42 kilobytes:

Mmmm. Food for thought.


Since this is useless trivia to begin with, I just thought I'd note that this article bears a striking resemblance to the articles on Scientology. -magfrump

Kings and Presidents[edit]

The United States has had 42 Presidents under the Federal Constitution.

Also, combined, the ancient Israelite Kingdoms had 42 kings.

Does this mean the end of time is upon us?

Food for thought. 22:56, 14 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

More 42 in the Bible[edit]

More food for this thought: there were 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus (Matthew ch 1). Also, in Revelation 12, the woman who, after gave birth to the child which was taken up to heaven, fled to the wilderness for 1260 days (42 months), and the beast which came out of the sea (Revelation 13) made war with the Christians 42 months. Spidermonkey03 23:38, 18 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Google Calculator[edit]

I think it would be worth noting that when one searches "the answer to life the universe and everything" in Google, the Google Calculator gives you the answer of "42." Try it for yourself. REscano 17:29, 15 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Aside from the fact that this is already in the article The_Hitchhiker's_Guide_to_the_Galaxy_cultural_references#42, if you do this you'll notice that the wikipedia article is 42 kilobytes. --TIB (talk) 17:48, 15 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
43 kb now, that sucks :/, Someone should take something out. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 03:10, 2 January 2007 (UTC).Reply[reply]

Everywhere I go "42"[edit]

Hello,I do not even know who I am talking to,but here is the problem.It seems for a long time now that every time I look up I see this number.I swear I think there is an answer to my question,WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?WHAT DO I NEED TO BE LOOKING FOR?I have been seemingly haunted by this number for a long while.If this raises any kind of forum,please let me know. [e-mail address removed] .....thanks

  • Try noticing some other similar numbers, like, say, 44 or 48. They'll show up just as often. You only notice 42 because you're already looking for it. Also remember that the Hitchhiker's Guide is humorous fiction, so don't expect it to reveal any deep truths about the universe. rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 03:10, 28 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • That is, of course, what those in the know would *want* you to believe. ;)Nightstallion (?) 22:10, 14 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • You'll notice that 23 is WAY more common! It's everywhere!! AHH!!! 23:10, 14 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Only in Base 10. If you use base 12, it changes all the numerological items around.Slavlin 21:08, 20 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The question was incomplete[edit]

The very first time I read this book, I was ten or twelve years old. I remember thinking that since the time of Earth's computation was nearing an end, the question as present in the subconscious mind of Arthur Dent was almost in its final form, requiring only computational precision to be fully accurate. To me, that meant the question would actually have been, WHAT DO YOU GET IF YOU MULTIPLY SIX BY SEVEN, with the answer being, of course, 42.

However, the implications of WHAT DO YOU GET IF YOU MULTIPLY SIX BY SEVEN? 42. did not hit me until I pondered adding my voice to this auspicious cacophony. You see, Adams' humor was very British; dry, intellectual, with a deep melancholy behind it. If my speculation matches Douglas Adams' intent, it also matches the general theme of the book: that life is, at its heart, mundane, impersonal, and ultimately unsatisfying.

Yes, I did say mundane. Despite multifarous alien species on millions of worlds, despite the wacky humor and multiple jaunts through space and time, the Hitchhiker books are about how everoyone in an accidental universe faces a lifetime of disappointment and disillusionment.

  • Once Arthur Dent learned to understand the language of the birds, he realized it was all the most mundane kind of talk -- air velocity, location of food sources, etc.
  • The immortality of reincarnation is marred, once a person realizes their life will end again and again and again, often in the most meaningless ways.
  • The original planet of humans was depopulated through lack of telephone handset sanitizing.
  • Even The Almighty apologized for screwing up.
  • The Vogons win.

No wonder Marvin was depressed. --BlueNight 05:20, 23 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

thank you[edit]

no more vandalsism is present. every time i visit this page (6 times but who is counting) it has something with the words gangsta or ******. But not today. thank you wikipedianitewitchyourds.(I have no clue what you people are called)Fyvp 03:15, 21 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

9 x 6= 42[edit]

Im not sure but i think it might be correct in base 13. Sultangris 02:51, 21 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes. That's well documented and irrelevant. --JohnDBuell 02:56, 21 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Tea for two[edit]

I am pretty sure there was an official explanation of 42 at one point (in a Douglas Adams webpage I think). Fourty-two, for-tee-two. The meaning of life is Tee-for-two. Does anyone know where this come from? Carewolf 09:15, 16 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Useless trivia is what some people live on.[edit]

I've read the talk page, and most of it seems to be people complaining about the uselessness of the trivia to do with 42.

Firstly, I'd just like to say that the number 42 itself IS a piece of trivia.

You are on a web page devoted to the a fiction novel in which 42 is the ultimate answer.

Trivia is what people want to see when they come to this page, not a factual recount of how Douglas Adams SAYS he came up with the number.

IMO we should add a section on the end of the page devoted to useless trivia about the number 42, and theories about its origins. You see, Douglas was a human being, and therefore had the potential to lie. So IMO he may have got the number from somewhere and not told anybody about it.

Some useless trivia:

I also have recently been told by a friend that D. Adams = 42. Also, 42 in binary is 101010.

I think the people of the world have a right to know that Douglas Adams may well have got the number from somewhere and lied about it later. Glooper—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

I don't think it's necessary to say that Douglas Adams was lying at all. If people insist on believing that Adams using 42 had a deeper significance, there is still a lot of room for the subconscious. I agree though, it might be interesting to have a section including all this trivia. Zorander22 23:57, 31 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, we can have random speculation about why the number 42 might be significant, or we can have real facts about how Douglas Adams never meant it to be significant at all. Guess which one belongs on a fan site and which one belongs in an encyclopedia. rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 08:27, 1 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Better reason[edit]

Here's a better reason it is 42, for those interested. 42 is the sum of the dots on a pair of dice. Life, the universe, and everything are just a roll of the dice, chance.

NINE*SIX = 42 (programmers joke)[edit]

In russian version of the article there is interesting joke, showing some danger of careless using of C, C++ and other languages sharing the same preprocessor. Quite nice IMHO.

This was removed, but I think it should go back in.QBasicer 05:14, 4 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No. It's unattributable and doesn't add anything meaningful to the article. rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 08:03, 16 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I was pretty sure that it used to be mentioned that Marvin answered the question - his "Why?". It seems pretty obvious that he would have solved it, since even while with the Krikketmen he solved "every physiological, meteriological... [etc.]...problem, and wrote lullabies" - surely with "a brain the size of a planet", and a lifespan 37 times that of the universe, he would have had enough time and, if you can call it that, motivation to do so. The fact that he answers with "Why" seems to be a clear ringer. Plus, it would still fit with the tone of mediocrity and ennui.KrytenKoro 12:11, 28 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]