# The power of 42

I know this sounds crazy, but could the number 42 really be the answer to life, the universe and everything?

Now, don't shoot the messenger on this, because I have looked into it and there is a lot of evidence pointing towards this hypothesis. E.g.:

• The numbers three and seven appear very commonly, and those two numbers can be divided by 42 without decimal place.

• One point in history, 1945, was the year ww2 ended. Take away 42 from 1945 and you get 1903, the year when the Wright brothers made the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight. look here

• 4+2= 6, which is a factor of 42 (see below).

• The Beatles went on form 1962 (their first studio contract) to 1970 (when they split). 1970 minus 1964 is 8, and there are 8 factors in 42 (1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 14, 21, 42). look here

• Elvis Presley died at the age of 42. look here

This, and much more, could add up to 42 being the answer to life, the universe and everything!

So, is the whole thing just a universal joke, or did Douglas Adams hit the button with the answer?

What do you think?

Note by Matthew Hayes
4 years, 3 months ago

This discussion board is a place to discuss our Daily Challenges and the math and science related to those challenges. Explanations are more than just a solution — they should explain the steps and thinking strategies that you used to obtain the solution. Comments should further the discussion of math and science.

When posting on Brilliant:

• Use the emojis to react to an explanation, whether you're congratulating a job well done , or just really confused .
• Ask specific questions about the challenge or the steps in somebody's explanation. Well-posed questions can add a lot to the discussion, but posting "I don't understand!" doesn't help anyone.
• Try to contribute something new to the discussion, whether it is an extension, generalization or other idea related to the challenge.

MarkdownAppears as
*italics* or _italics_ italics
**bold** or __bold__ bold
- bulleted- list
• bulleted
• list
1. numbered2. list
1. numbered
2. list
Note: you must add a full line of space before and after lists for them to show up correctly
paragraph 1paragraph 2

paragraph 1

paragraph 2

[example link](https://brilliant.org)example link
> This is a quote
This is a quote
    # I indented these lines
# 4 spaces, and now they show
# up as a code block.

print "hello world"
# I indented these lines
# 4 spaces, and now they show
# up as a code block.

print "hello world"
MathAppears as
Remember to wrap math in $$ ... $$ or $ ... $ to ensure proper formatting.
2 \times 3 $2 \times 3$
2^{34} $2^{34}$
a_{i-1} $a_{i-1}$
\frac{2}{3} $\frac{2}{3}$
\sqrt{2} $\sqrt{2}$
\sum_{i=1}^3 $\sum_{i=1}^3$
\sin \theta $\sin \theta$
\boxed{123} $\boxed{123}$

Sort by:

Of course it is crazy, 42 isn't really the "the answer to life, the universe and everything". 42 is a particularly mathematically rich special number, something even the ancient Egyptians knew about from their system of fractions

$\dfrac { 1 }{ 2 } +\dfrac { 1 }{ 3 } +\dfrac { 1 }{ 7 } +\dfrac { 1 }{ 2\cdot 3\cdot 7 } =\dfrac { 1 }{ 2 } +\dfrac { 1 }{ 3 } +\dfrac { 1 }{ 7 } +\dfrac { 1 }{ 42 } =1$

but any "answer" to "life, universe, and all" should at least be explanatory, i.e. tell us what else we can conclude from such a thing. 42 doesn't say anything, other than it simply pops up everywhere. It is a Catalan number, for instance. Well, $\pi$ and $e$ pops up everywhere too, but so? Deep understanding involves something more than just a number.

- 4 years, 3 months ago

You can say the same about any number, to be honest. I could subtract any other arbitrary number from 1945 and come across something unique in that year. It's neither coincidence nor the answer to everything. It's just the beauty of numbers being there everywhere.

- 4 years, 3 months ago

I agree

- 4 years, 3 months ago