4.8 Probable Solution to the Ill Guide Puzzle

(This from Christ van Willegen)

In an interview, published in 'Mostly Harmless' (The ZZ9 club magazine), DNA mentioned that he had made a puzzle that depicted 42 in 10 different ways.
Here's the solution:

There are 6 rowes of 7 spheres, making a grand total of 42. On the left is a white globe with a bar code on it. 4 lines have no thick line next to them, 2 do.

Next, all 7 lines of the diagram can be read as: 0101010, which is 42 in binary, if:

White, blue, green, 'light yellow' == 0
Red, purple, 'dark yellow', black == 1

Finally, if you take only the blue, green, purple, and black spheres, they spell '42' in quite big letters. Exactly 10 ways to solve the problem!

(From Douglas Adams, in his speech to Washington University):

42 spheres
Bar Code = 42
Earth in bottom right corner [= "42"]
spheres with red tint (orange, red, etc) = "1", spheres w/o red = "0" gets 0101010 lines = "42 in binary"
spheres with blue tint gives a big "42" across the whole puzzle
spheres with yellow tint gives a big "XLII" across the top of the page

He didn't mention the "10" solutions, just that he fit in as many as were humane to include.

5.2 Number Games (I.E. The 42 Thing)

Yes, 6 times 9 equals 54. Yes, 6 times 9 equals 42 in base thirteen, and we don't want to know about the implications for the number of fingers on cavemen.

The bit about monkeys was a reference to someone's comment that if you get an infinite number of monkeys at typewriters, eventually one will bash out a script to Hamlet. If you want to discuss probability, quantum physics or anything else that has nothing to do with Douglas Adams, bugger off to another group.

DNA himself has said:

The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought `42 will do'. I typed it out. End of story.

And if you STILL won't believe it, here's the answers that were in the books themselves. So consider yourself informed.

Answer one:
Well, of course it's...ehm...uh.. oh, I forgot.

Answer two:
I know, but nobody asked me.

Answer three:
Six times 9 is forty-two.

Answer four:
How many roads must a man walk down? Forty-two.
/Benji mouse.

Answer five:
The square root of minus one is forty-two.
(Deducted from several facts about marvin)

Answer six:
Pick a number, any number
/Marvin, to the Mattress

Pick your favourite one, and shut up about it already!

(As an aside, Lewis Carroll was also obsessed with the number 42.)

from douglas-adams-FAQ

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