[Haskell-cafe] Re: Who started 42, and when?

Martin Lüthi answer at tnoo.net
Fri Feb 1 10:56:08 EST 2008


Phil Molyneux <molyneux at kingston.ac.uk> writes:
> Hi --- The arbitrary constant was made popular by Douglas Adams in the
> mid-1970s radio series ``A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'' (a  trilogy in 4
> parts) --- however it does have a basis in the standard  model of physics ---
> a paper in Phys.Rev. of the early 1970s  described the unification of the
> Electro-Weak and Strong nuclear  forces --- the arbitrary constant (of nearly)
> 42 appears in the  calculations. I forget the original paper but if you get
> hold of  Frank Close ``The Cosmic Onion'' a graph reproduces the result. I met
> Douglas Adams once at a book signing and asked him how he got hold of  the
> Phys.Rev. paper so early. Technically he should have written that  ``42 is the
> answer to life, the universe and everything except for  gravity and a few
> other arbitrary constants''

In the Japanese culture the number 42 has a very special meaning. I
realized that while discussing cultural differences with a Japanese.
Pronouncing 42 sounds like "death" or "to die". No hotel in Japan has a
room 42. 

After knowing that it is hard to think that Doug Adams was not aware of
that meaning.

Best, Tinu

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