Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/21/a-hitchhikers-guide-to-the-number-42.html

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“*Un, dos, tres, quatre, cinc, sis, set, vuit, nou, deu, onze, dotze, tretze, quaranta-dos, mil milions!*”

Why did Adams choose 42? Because it is was a good number to use

Yep, I recall reading it in his notes to the radio scripts.

In fact it was chosen because it was a completely ordinary number, a number not just divisible by two but also by six and seven. In fact it’s the sort of number you could introduce to your parents.

– *Douglas Adams, The Original Hitchhikers Radio Scripts, Fit the Fourth foonotes*

The Spanish government insists that these numbers are all super-extra-prime, and as such are not divisible by anything, ever.

*four-ty-two* has a nice scansion, yet supposedly if one asks a large group of people to name a random number between 1 and 100 you’ll get a bit of a histogram peak at 37, (particularly if one attempts to ignore the giggles surrounding 69)

Born August 1978

Now I’m 42, and screw 2020.

This wasn’t the answer I was looking for.

The actual question turns out to be “What’s six times nine?” You might think its 54 but it is 42 (in base 13). Though Douglas Adams is on record as explicitly saying that he doesn’t do in-jokes in base 13.

The computers on my home network are named Colin, Deepthought, Eddie, Marvin, Hactar and Earth but I didn’t know any the 42-based trivia.

My standard 42 trivia was mentioned in passing in the article- in Alice in Wonderland, the oldest rule in the book is Rule 42: “All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.”

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