Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (42)
The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything
In the first novel and radio series, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42. Unfortunately, The Ultimate Question itself is unknown.
When asked to produce The Ultimate Question, the computer says that it cannot; however, it can help to design an even more powerful computer (the Earth), that can. The programmers then embark on a further ten-million-year program to discover The Ultimate Question. This new computer will incorporate living beings in the "computational matrix", with the pan-dimensional creators assuming the form of mice. The process is hindered after eight million years by the unexpected arrival on Earth of the Golgafrinchans and then is ruined completely, five minutes before completion, when the Earth is destroyed by the Vogons to make way for a new Hyperspace Bypass. This is later revealed to have been a ruse: the Vogons had been hired to destroy the Earth by a consortium of psychiatrists, led by Gag Halfrunt, who feared for the loss of their careers when the meaning of life became known.
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