Why is it that the number 42 is the “answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”?
Quote from Hitchhiker Fandom:
“42 (or forty-two), is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. This Answer was first calculated by the supercomputer Deep Thought after seven and a half million years of thought. This shocking answer resulted in the construction of an even larger supercomputer, named Earth, which was tasked with determining what the question was in the first place”.
In order for us to understand the Answer, quite rightly we must know…what is the Question?
Quote from Hitchhiker Fandom in regards to the “Ultimate Question”:
The Ultimate Question
Many theories prevail in an attempt to solve the puzzle. Here are some more from the Hitchhikers Fandom:
- There have been many theories from fans in an attempt to explain why the number 42 was chosen, and what secret meaning it may hold. Some propose that it was chosen because 42 is 101010 in binary code, others have pointed out that light refracts through a water surface by 42 degrees to create a rainbow, and others have commented that light requires 10−42 seconds to cross the diameter of a proton.
- Others fans say that 42 is Adams’ tribute to the indefatigable paperback book, and is the average number of lines on an average page of an average paperback. Another common theory is that 42 refers to the number of laws in cricket, a recurring theme of the books.
- Some fans have thought that ‘what do you get when you multiply six by nine?’ was the Ultimate Question. After all, it was Arthur who has been led to reveal this answer; Arthur was indeed from Earth; the Earth was the giant computer built to work out exactly what the Ultimate Question was; and it is a bona fide question. Six times nine does indeed equal 42 when one calculates in base 13. Adams responded thus: ‘I may be a sorry case, but I don’t write jokes in base 13.’
Inspiration for the number 42
“It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought ’42 will do'”.
He further explained in January 2000, in response to a panelist’s “Where does the number 42 come from?” on the radio show “Book Club”.
Adams explained that he was “on his way to work one morning, whilst still writing the scene, and was thinking about what the actual answer should be”. He eventually decided that it “should be something that made no sense whatsoever – a number, and a mundane one at that”. He arrived at the number 42, completely at random.
Despite Adams stating that he chose the number 42 at random, and that it has no hidden meaning, and his collaborator on ‘The Meaning of Liff’ and two Hitchhiker’s fits, John Lloyd, saying that Adams has called 42 “the funniest of the two-digit numbers”, fans still speculate about the ‘true’ meaning of the number.
- The Allen Telescope Array, a radio telescope used by SETI, has 42 dishes in homage to the Answer.
- In the American TV show Lost, 42 is the last of the mysterious numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42. In an interview with Lostpedia, producer David Fury confirmed this was a reference to Hitchhiker’s.
- The British TV show The Kumars at No. 42 is so named because show creator Sanjeev Bhaskar is a Hitchhiker’s fan.
- The band Coldplay’s album Viva la Vida includes a song called “42”. When asked by Q if the song’s title was Hitchhiker’s-related, Chris Martin said, “It is and it isn’t.”
- The band Level 42 chose its name in reference to the book.
- The episode “42” of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who was named in reference to the Answer. Writer Chris Chibnall acknowledged that “it’s a playful title”.
- Ken Jennings, defeated along with Brad Rutter in a Jeopardy! match against IBM’s Watson, writes that Watson’s avatar which appeared on-screen for those games showed 42 “threads of thought,” shown as colorful lines spinning around Watson’s logo, and that the number was chosen in reference to this meme.
- The Hitchhiker knitting pattern, designed by Martina Behm, is a scarf with 42 teeth.
- In The Flash, Season 4, Episode 1, Cisco in trying to decipher what Barry is writing explicitly says that what Barry says might solve answer to the Life, the Universe and Everything, which Caitlin suggests is 42.
- In The X-Files, Fox Mulder lives in apartment 42. This has been acknowledged by the show’s creator, Chris Carter, as a reference to Hitchhikers.
- The number 47 appears often throughout the Star Trek franchise. When producer Rick Berman was asked about the unusual frequency of the number, he stated, “47 is 42, corrected for inflation.”
- In the French comic series Ducobu (a non-sci-fi comedy about a hilariously ignorant student and his unending attempts at cheating at a maths test, in a Wile E. Coyote-esque style, there is a recurring gag that the only question Ducobu ever has to answer is “what is 6 multiplied by 7”, and he never, ever figures out that the answer is 42.
- The games developer Mens Sana Interactive released a computer game called “The Answer is 42” on Steam in December 2019. The game consists of 100 puzzles, each of which is a grid of numbers that must be connected to sum 42.
Now, whatever Mr Adam’s says about 42 being “random”…it is not.
So, who really does know the Ultimate Question to the Ultimate Answer? So I just “Randomly” thought of William Shakespeare to see what “Randomly” turns up.
To Be or not To Be…THAT is the “Ultimate” Question.
The Answer is 42…
I then randomly decided to see if Gematria showed a possible “Random” connection, and using simple Gematria “Randomly” revealed…42 = TO BE!
Thankyou William Shakespeare.