From: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Genre: Books, Movies, Television
Who said it?: Deep Thought
The story behind the quote: This is actually my first “book” and “radio” categories entry, but I am cheating a bit here since I’m getting it from the latest movie adapted from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. The overall story follows Arthur Dent, an ordinary man who survives the destruction of the Earth with Ford Prefect (an alien in disguise) and goes off to have different adventures.
The quote comes from a scene early in the story. Aliens created a supercomputer named Deep Thought and ask it to answer the question of life, the universe and everything. Deep Thought mentions that it would take seven and a half million years to get the Ultimate Answer.
So, seven and a half million years pass. The aliens (their ancestors anyway) come back to Deep Thought to get the answer. Deep Thought gives his reply that the answer is 42. The aliens complain that the answer cannot be correct. Deep Thought then says that he cannot give an answer since the aliens don’t know what the question actually is. The computer does say that another computer, even more powerful than itself, will be able to know what the Ultimate Question is.
SPOILER: The computer more powerful than Deep Thought is actually the Earth.
Geek wisdom: The “meaning of life” question is meaningless since the answer is, and always be, something different for each person. The reason being is that the question is also going to be different for each person. Deep Thought felt that it was a perfectly legitimate answer since, for him, it made sense. For others, it was rubbish. That’s because the Ultimate Question is different for each and every one of them.
When we ask ourselves “what is the meaning of life” we are actually asking how we personally think what we want in life. If you ask ourselves the Ultimate Question and we cannot find what the Ultimate Answer is within ourselves, then you may not know what direction your life is going. If you are able to answer it, then you have already found your purpose in life.
One thought on ““The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.””
Also, Douglas Adams worked as a computer programmer, and “chr$(42)” is the * character, which in a wild card search means “everything”. Bascially an evening geekier way of say the answer is what you want it to be.