42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. The answer was first discovered by the computer Deep Thought after seven and a half million years of calculation. Although the answer has been found, no-one really knows the question; this was the purpose of the Earth, a computer designed to calculate the answer that was unfortunately destroyed by the Vogons five minutes before its ten million year program was due to be completed.
One of the only two humans surviving the destruction of Earth, Arthur Dent, pulled random Scrabble tiles from a bag. When his friend, Ford Prefect, lined up the tiles, they spelled: "What do you get when you multiply six by nine?"
This is often assumed to be the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. However, it is stated earlier that the "program" was corrupted when the B ark arrived on Earth. This is also the reason for the termination of Earth, and the planned reset. However, a theory came to light that 6 * 9 does indeed equal 42 when done in base 13. However, this was later said to be not the reason why it was chosen. Douglas Adams is quote with saying "I may be a sorry case, but I don't write jokes in base 13."
Another possibility is that 42 is the solution when you add up the letters of fish from their position in alphabetic sequence: F(6) + I(9) + S(19) + H(8) = 42. The dolphins constantly mention fish, and this could be a reference to this explanation.
Yet another theory has arisen; that it could be a play on words (of sorts). "What is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?" is a question that can be deconstructed to mean "what is the meaning of it all?" or rather, "What conclusion can be drawn from it all?" If asking this question, one can take "conclusion" to mean "end" or "finality" and this could then be answered as "death." Since death could also be perceived as "Heaven" and another word for heaven is "Paradise," 42 makes sense as an answer because, "42" is what you get if you add up all the dots on A PAIR OF DICE. (commence groaning)
Interestingly, (bad puns aside) this can be a segue into some deep philosophy, as it implies that the real meaning of life is randomness and chance, as dice are well known symbols for randomness and chance. So this argument has merit on several levels.
Also to point out in book 1 of the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy Trillin's White mice ( Frankie & Benjy ) Frankie said "hear's a thought. How many roads must a man walk down". Benji then said AHA that sounds promising he Rolled the phrase a little yes he said that's excellent sounds a very significant without actually trying you down to Meaning anything at all how Many roads must a man walked down? 42 excellent excellent that'll Fox 'em and Frankie baby we are made
A Random QuestionEdit
If you built a straight tunnel through the earth between any two points on the surface and jumped in one end, how many minutes would it take to fall and reach the other end?
Would you reach the other end? Nope
Inspiration for numberEdit
There are quite a lot of numbers to choose from, so why did Douglas Adams choose 42? Basically he wanted a small, ordinary, innocuous number and he picked 42. This message from Adams explains his choice.