Thursday, August 28, 2008

The answer to the universe

A mathematician was explaining bases to me. We use base 10, presumably because we have 8 fingers and 2 thumbs, so the number 10 means 1 lot of 10 and 0 more units, whereas 11=1 lot of 10 plus 1 unit and 34=3 lots of 10 plus 4 units. You get my drift.
Anyway, the mathematician said that if you change the base from 10 to 13, the answer to the universe, 42, is 6 x 9 because 4 x 13 is 52 plus 2 is 54.
I was sceptical and was comforted to read on Google that Douglas Adams 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...A completely ordinary number, a number not just divisible by two but also six and seven. In fact it's the sort of number that you could, without any fear, introduce to your parents... I may be a sorry case, but I don't write jokes in base 13."
So there you have it.

4 Comments:

Blogger kinglear said...

Ah, but if you simply think in terms of the answer to everything being 42, life becomes very simple. The problem is you have to ask the right question, which, as every hedge fund manager knows, is the problem in the first place....

6:54 pm  
Blogger Swearing Mother said...

So how come I know that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42?

Ha!

9:26 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Hi SM - hope you've had a good summer.

Morning KL - indeed...the daily question is "Long or short?"

7:49 am  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Oh, I'm glad it was a joke!

8:17 pm  

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