We have all known for some time that the answer to the ultimate question of “…what’s the meaning of life, the universe and everything” is 42. Ever since Douglas Adams wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 1979, researchers have frantically tried to determine the meaning of the meaning of life. Legend has it that Adams floated several possibilities, but told only Stephen Fry, who has vowed to take the secret to his grave.
There are a number of similarities between Adams’ book and Ken Welch’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe, which Adams had read in the early 70’s. One very interesting similarity. You might remember it was Deep Thought, the computer charged with answering the ultimate question, that said “…you’re not going to like it“. Coincidentally, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe told visitors coming to the UK to search for family roots and finding the answer a bit disappointing, especially after traveling around the world in search of “…the solution to the most puzzling question of all“. Where did occur in the European guide — page 42, of course.
42: Douglas Adams’ Amazingly Accurate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything
While researchers haven’t spent as much time as Deep Thought did, a recent book takes an interesting look at real-life occurrences of the number 42. None really explain where Adams came up with the ultimate answer, but most show instances of the rest of the world still paying tribute to Adams’ ongoing joke on the universe. The Independent has developed 42 reasons much of the world is fascinated with the number 42. Some coincidence, some a tribute to a great radio series, great book and great British comedy series. The recent movie…not so much. Some of the more fun tribute ones and some rather eerie coincidental ones to look at are…
- Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear’s spaceship is named 42
- Elvis Presley died at the age of 42
- The office of Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt is called Building 42 of the firm’s San Francisco complex
- Fox Mulder’s apartment in the US TV series The X Files was number 42
- Dodi Fayed was 42 when he was killed alongside Princess Diana
- Cell 42 on Alcatraz Island was once home to Robert Stroud who was transferred to The Rock in 1942. After murdering a guard he spent 42 years in solitary confinement in different prisons (Having just seen Birdman of Alcatraz today on Turner Classic Movies puts this in the ‘eerie’ category)
- 42 is the favourite number of Dr House, the American television doctor played by Hugh Laurie
Eerily, as I finish this post, it’s 12:42am. Honest.