Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comic science fiction series created by Douglas Adams that has become popular among fans of the genre(s) as well as members of the scientific community. Certain phrases from it are widely recognised and often used in reference to, but outside the context of, the source material. Many writers on popular science, such as Fred Alan Wolf, Paul Davies, Richard Dawkins and Michio Kaku, have used quotes from Adams' work in their books to illustrate facts about cosmology or philosophy.

Contents

Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything (42)

In the first novel and radio series, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42. Unfortunately, The Ultimate Question itself is unknown.

When asked to produce The Ultimate Question, the computer says that it cannot; however, it can help to design an even more powerful computer, the Earth, that can. The programmers then embark on a further ten-million-year program to discover The Ultimate Question. This new computer will incorporate living beings in the "computational matrix", with the pan-dimensional creators assuming the form of mice. The process is hindered after eight million years by the unexpected arrival on Earth of the Golgafrinchans and then is ruined completely, five minutes before completion, when the Earth is destroyed by the Vogons to make way for a new Hyperspace Bypass. This is later revealed to have been a ruse: the Vogons had been hired to destroy the Earth by a consortium of psychiatrists, led by Gag Halfrunt, who feared for the loss of their careers when the meaning of life became known.[1]

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