Forty Two?

and the Meaning of Life


Everyone has a certain small cadre of zany friends.  Some have a cadre.  The Saugeen Times has readers all over the globe now, although we concentrate on in-depth coverage of local affairs.   Recently we have received a number of messages from Florida and New Zealand.

The gist of the interaction was about sailing and the great Kiwi ability to design, build and race sailboats.  Lately they have been at or near the top in the America's cup, the ultimate in national sailing.

We have two friends who have a lot of talent and one of them worked on the design of the sail for an America's Cup winner.  This is a highly complicated task involving the 3 dimensional shape and surface area under wind conditions that vary.  So this dialog was moving along nicely concerning the design of such things when one of our readers responded with a picture of a sailboat in New Zealand.

The Mysterious Forty Two


(next column)


If you've read Douglas Adams' A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you'll recognize the name. For those of you who haven't, the book is a Sci Fi spoof on philosophy.

Mankind builds a giant computer to answer the question of "the meaning of life, the universe and everything". After computing for ages, the computer decides that it needs to build a much more powerful machine, the size of the earth, to answer this difficult question. The giant new computer thinks for eons and eons, until finally at the end of the universe and the end of all time, it spits out the answer ---   "42".

Unfortunately mankind has forgotten what the question was.

In a recent issue of Scientific American, authors Lawrence M Krauss and Robert J. Sherrer forecast the end of Cosmology or Lights Out as 100 trillion years from now.  That's when apart from glowing black holes and any artificial lighting our progeny have rigged up, the Universe Goes Black and the last thing uttered is 42!

Forty Two