Fun_People Archive
13 Nov
The answer: 42.

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 96 09:28:20 -0800
To: Fun_People
Subject: The answer: 42.

Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <>
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Forwarded-by: "David E. Trilling" <trilling@LPL.Arizona.EDU>

Copyright ) 1996
Copyright ) 1996 Reuter Information Service

LONDON (Nov 8, 1996 1:48 p.m. EST) - Scientists searching for one of the
fundamental keys to the universe found they had been beaten to the answer
by the comic cult novel "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"; and the answer
was 42.

In the British novel and radio serial by Douglas Adams, an alien race
programs a computer called Deep Thought to provide the ultimate answer to
understanding life and the universe.

In the novel, seven and a half million years later Deep Thought comes back
with the result - 42.

Astronomers at Britain's Cambridge University took a little less time -
three years - to calculate the Hubble Constant that determines the age of
the universe. But the answer was the same.

"It caused quite a few laughs when we arrived at the figure 42, because
we're all great fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide," Dr. Keith Grange, one of
the team of Cambridge scientists who worked on the project, said Friday.

"Everyone thought it was quite fun."

The scientists were using a new technique to determine the value of the
Hubble Constant, a source of constant controversy among astronomers. The
Constant is a measure of the rate at which galaxies are receding from each
other as a result of the Big Bang that created the universe.

Knowing how quickly everything is flying apart can enable scientists to
work out the universe's age.

This has presented a problem, since the large Hubble Constant values
estimated by some experts would mean that the universe is younger than
its oldest stars. The Cambridge team put the age of the universe at
between 14 and 16 billion years.

Grange said the answer was unlikely to remain 42, however. The team plans
to observe more galaxy clusters and take an average of a larger number of

"After averaging out all these values we'll have a relatively accurate
answer," he said. "It may be 42, but it could be anything between 30 and

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