Become a fan of h2g2
To anyone who is not aware of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, in its various forms, 42 is a fairly innocuous number. In everyday life it is found as part of a sequence of numbers, the previous one being 41, the next one being 43. It can be used to describe someones age, a house number, how many cards there are in a deck when the dog had managed to get hold of the deck the night before and has decided to eat ten of them. The list is endless.
The actual symbols that represent 42, 4 and 2, are actually part of a numerical system which has evolved over a period of millenia. The Greek, Pythagoras, was one of many people in the ancient world who helped define how we use numbers today. Pythagoras, when on the subject of numbers , had been heard to say "The world is built upon the power of numbers", which states the importance of them in everyday life. They are also very significant to mathematics. Actually it would be fair to say that mathematics would not exist without numbers.One example of using numbers within mathematics is :-
((8 + 6) * 4) - 14 = 42
Of course this is just one example, and there are many mathematical equations which can be used (which don't necesarily end in 42). There are an infinate number of numbers, and so to some people the obsession with one specific number can be quite baffling. To redress the balance the guide will attempt to explain to those who haven't read the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy why those who have like to mention the previously stated number 42 alot.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a work of fiction by a man by the name of Douglas Adams. It basically about a ficticious electronic book called the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and the effect it has on the characters in the story. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy has been shown in various media forms: Radio, Television, a Book and (if you include this website) this website. The main characters in it are Arthur Dent (a Human being), Ford Prefect (a Betelguesian), Zaphod Beeblebrox (a Betelguesian), Trillian (a Human Being), and an Android called Marvin. The character we probably relate to the most is Arthur Dent, as he is one of the few human characters in it. And one of the most significant things that happens to him, is that the planet Earth is destroyed by a Vogon Constructor Fleet (basically not very nice aliens), in order to make room for a hyperspace bypass.
Now, while they were on the journey Douglas Adams had created for them, Arthur Dent came across a man by the name of Slartibartfast, who is someone who helps create designer planets. While he is with Slartibartfast, he tells Arthur how upset he was that the planet Earth was destroyed. And the reason Slartibartfast is upset is that he helped make it for the Mice (who are apparently highly intelligent creatures from another galaxy) so that it could find the question to life, the Universe and everything. This is not entirely clear until the story about what happened when the question of Life, the Universe and everthing is asked, is shown to Arthur.
What is supposed to have happened is that the Mice (not in the bodies as we know them to be) in their own galaxy created a machine called Deep Thought which would be able to find the Answer for Life, The Universe and Everything. However, millions of years later when the machine had finally come up with the answer, the answer happened to be 42. This made no sense at all to the Mice, but the problem was that no one actually knew what the question was, hence Deep Thought designed a new machine which would be able to find the answer to Life, the Universe and everthing. And that turned out to be the Earth. Of course blowing up the Earth, before it could finish was a bit of a pain to the Mice. Though it had been disrupted anyway, by some other aliens (the golgafrinchins), who settled in prehistoric Earth. That and the fact that another Earth was pulled from an alternate reality by the Dolphins (who were apparently very intelligent), really messed things up.
And Hence most of those who have grown to love the works of Douglas Adams, have become very attatched to the number forty two.