The answer to the question “What is life all about?” is a big topic of discussion, but a book by Douglas Adams might provide an interesting alternative. We’ll discuss the story’s implications for life, and discuss Douglas Adams’s answer to “the ultimate question.”
Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The answer to life, the universe, and everything may lie somewhere in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. The novel features an advanced race of aliens who create a computer called Deep Thought, which calculates the answer for 7.5 million years. This computer never knows the exact question it is being asked, but its calculation does uncover an answer to the ultimate question: what is life?
In the book, Zem the mattress is told by Marvin the Paranoid Android that he can pick any number in the world, despite the fact that his brain is the size of a planet. When Arthur wonders aloud about the answer to the Question, Eddie, the shipboard computer, mentions “pick a number.” However, the human inhabitants of the Heart of Gold ignore the suggestion.
Douglas Adams’ answer to “the meaning of life”
In the science fiction novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams poses the question, “What is the meaning of life?” He posits that the answer lies in 42. The protagonists of the book, Fred and Sylvester, take the answer of Deep Thought, a supercomputer, and set off on a quest to find out the answer. In the process, they uncover some genuinely profound things.
A Japanese friend explains that the number 42 is unlucky, as it resembles the Latin word for death. Adams doesn’t see this as relevant to the question. The author also says that the number 42 represents the meaning of deep thought, which is a computer developed by an intelligent race to answer such questions as “What is the meaning of life?”
Deep Thought’s answer to “the ultimate question”
As the title suggests, Deep Thought’s answer to the “ultimate question” is 42. This answer hints that it has no basis in reality, but could be the product of Artificial Intelligence. While we may never know for sure, Deep Thought does seem to be a fascinating character to watch in this comic book. This isn’t the first time that Deep Thought has been compared to Artificial Intelligence.
A super-intelligent pandimensional mouse constructs Deep Thought, which is supposed to answer the ultimate question. This computer tries to calculate an answer for “the ultimate question” in seven and a half million years, but is utterly frustrated when it comes up with a numeric answer. Deep Thought’s computer also points out that the question itself is too vague. Hence, the creators of Deep Thought’s computer design a new version of itself, which they call Earth.