Apr 20, 2016

Why is 42 the meaning of life? The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the Soviet Space program: Coincidence or Reference?


Now I'm not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but I am a huge fan of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, and this was an odd little gem that I came across while doing some research for a Russian culture project.

It's well known that Soviet dogs Belka and Strelka were among the very first animals to orbit the Earth and return alive.  They were not alone aboard Sputnik 5, however:

"They were accompanied by a grey rabbit, 42 mice, 2 rats, flies and several plants and fungi. All passengers survived."


(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_space_dogs#Belka_and_Strelka)


Wait, how many mice again?  42 exactly?  No big deal, just an everyday coincidence.


Oh yeah, and this is what the Guide has to say about mice:

"Mice are merely the protrusion into our dimension of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who, unbeknownst to the human race, are the most intelligent species on the planet Earth."

(Let's not forget that the mice operated primarily by means of testing humans under the guise of being tested by humans.)


Alright, now that's stacking up to something a little suspicious, but still possible that it's nothing more than a random coincidence.


Add in the fact that these mice were among the first to travel in space... and that Sputnik 5's historic journey took place in Douglas Adam's childhood...

Well I could be wrong, but I'd place it at the probability of two to the power of 276,709 to one against.*


*Not to be confused with a binding wager or official statement.


I only wish Adams were alive today, and we could know for certain.  
Here's to remembering the life of a great man.


Anyway, there you have my personal theory.  If you have any better ones please do speak up!


(Alternatively, as Adams said himself, he simply picked an ordinary number that was neither too small nor too large.  But where's the fun in that?)


Some different reading:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/history/42-the-answer-to-life-the-universe-and-everything-2205734.html

https://www.quora.com/Why-and-how-is-42-the-answer-to-life-the-universe-and-everything

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