This post is going to be about one fine man. Douglas Noel Adams, but more about his book. He was an English author, scriptwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist. One can only attempt to imagine what went on in his brilliant head when he wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He created something really special. Its a book I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend it to everyone.
If you don’t want any spoilers for the book, don’t read this post.(Thank you for visiting though!) The book is funny and rather pointless but at the same time its intelligent writing. Its clever on a level that’s inexplicable and is full of quick-witted lines that I can’t refrain from writing here and be a Hitchhiker buff. You may find these lines not that amusing due to lack of context but whatever.
My favorite, is this one from chapter five.
“They’ve got as much sex appeal as a road accident.”
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
How did he come up with this one?! (I actually laughed a lot when I first read this.)
“Ah, said Arthur, “er…” He had an odd feeling of being like a man in the act of adultery who is surprised when the woman’s husband wanders into the room, changes his trousers, passes a few idle remarks about the weather and leaves again.”
Since I mentioned the words “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, I have to talk about the number 42. Its a number that if you notice once, you keep finding it everywhere. I have suffered from it, in fact enjoyed this silly preoccupation ever since I was thirteen. 42 is not actually a number that important in mathematics but it is a huge part of this nerd culture that has been created due to this amazing book about which I cannot keep my mouth shut. The number 42 is the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Well at least it is in the book.
“Forty-two, said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”
So basically in it a supercomputer was created to give the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything. After millions of years the giant computer came up with the answer as the number 42, much to the disappointment of people who created it. Well, what was the question? the computer asks them. It was a valid point. They never told him what the question to the ultimate answer was. After that another supercomputer was created to determine the Ultimate Question, which was Earth, and humans formed part of that organic framework. But sadly Earth was destroyed five minutes before the completion of the program. I am sorry but I have ruined the WHOLE book for you just now.
People have since then come up with complex and weird explanations as to why Adams chose this particular number. Adams has denied all those theories, calling them bonkers. He said he chose it because it was a funny sounding number. Douglas Adams is not the first person to use this number though. Lewis Carroll, who was also a mathematician, made repeated use of this number in his writings. Fun fact: Alice in Wonderland has 42 illustrations.
In January 2004, asteroid 2001 DA42 was given the permanent name 25924 Douglasadams in honor of the great man. He died in 2001 at the age of 49.
42 is a primary pseudo perfect number. It means that the sum of the inverse of the prime factors and the inverse of the number itself gives one. The next number to have such a property is 1,806, then 47,058 and huge numbers like 2,214,502,422 after that.
The protagonist in the story is Arthur Dent, played by Martin Freeman in the 2005 film of the same name. Its a nice movie. I recommend that as well. There are actually five books in the series. The other four are:
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
- Life, the Universe and Everything
- So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
- Mostly Harmless
I am yet to read these. I will soon do it and come back with some thoughts on them if I’m lucky to have some.