Monday, March 22, 2004

Julie will be 42 on Friday.

42, huh? Isn't that supposed to be a significant number?

"As any digital hardware engineer, or software engineer, can tell you, the number '42' in base ten is equal to '101010' in base two. This alternating pattern of ones and zeros illustrates DEEP Thought's indecision about the Ultimate Question.
Of course, in the original Hitchhiker's Guide radio scripts, when Arthur has the "cave man" put out Scrabble stones and the sentence "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?" emerges, and then Arthur says "Six by nine? Forty-two? You know, I've always felt that there was something fundamentally wrong with the Universe." -- it is at this point that a faint and distant voice says "base thirteen!".

42 (base 13) is equal to 54 (base 10). (Of Course -- Douglas Adams has been quoted as saying " You just don't write jokes in base 13!" )
To dispel any myths about 42 (and to make Douglas Adams Happy!), Douglas Adams also wrote on USENET: The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do' I typed it out. End of story"

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