Are numbers, the answer to ‘life the universe and everything’.

What would we do, if we could produce a computer to answer the question what is ‘life the universe and everything’ to quote from Douglas Adams The hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy. Well we may never know what we would do, Edinburgh Universities £14 million intelligent computer has failed, after three years churning through billions and billions of calculations per second, to come up with an answer. It was probably really trying to work out where to go on holiday this year. Interestingly, Douglas Adams came up with the number 42 as the answer and guess what, apparently our Galaxy weights, three times 10 to the power of 42 kg. It’s official. spooky isn’t it, I reckon all we have to do is get everybody in the world to give us one number and then divide by the number of people in the world and we will have the answer. It will of course inevitably be 42.

Half the 42, and you get 21. The magical age at which most people reach majority, although I do have to admit in my head, 18, being the legal drinking age, in my part of the world, seemed far more important as a milestone. Divide 21 by 3 and you get the number of years from birth that the Jesuits reckoned they needed to mold a mere mortal into one of God warrior’s.

Have numbers replaced the certainty of religion, books like the Wisdom of crowds ,The undercover economist, The logic of life are fascinating with their pure logical answers. Sometimes I think I should have paid more attention in maths and actually learnt a little bit of algebra, I could then decide the odds of having a good time if I went to the pub as opposed to going to the pictures or reading a good book. I think perhaps this evening, I’ll leave the numbers and calculations to their own devices apart from ensuring that my Guinness is a full pint.

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