Life And Death And Love And Birth Piano Sheet Music 42 – A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sci-Fi’s Favorite Number – Homage to the Late Douglas Adams

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42 – A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sci-Fi’s Favorite Number – Homage to the Late Douglas Adams

Rafa Nadal became the first Spaniard to win a grass-court tournament in 42 years when he beat Roger Federer in the longest final in Wimbledon history last July. It put Spain in full celebration mode. This caused mild frustration among Federer fans, who were about to witness a sixth consecutive Wimbledon victory. However, I suspect that most people are yawning in the kitchen for another cup of coffee. Not me. I ran to my computer and opened a folder labeled “42’s” and I’ve collected a bunch of cases over the years. Remember that “42” was revealed by English science fiction humorist Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001) as the answer to the ultimate question about life, the universe and everything.

Adams’ science fiction “trilogy”, consisting of five novels, The Motorist’s Guide to the Galaxy, began as a BBC radio series in 1978. The story begins with the destruction of planet Earth to make way for a new intergalactic orbit. Emotionally distressed people have little sympathy – this notice has been posted in the basements of public buildings for thousands of years. Where? Well, not Earth.

The search for the meaning of life, the universe and everything is carried out by a long-suffering computer called Deep Thought, created by the mouse. In an unparalleled example of patience, he solved the problem for 7.5 million years and concluded that the answer was the number 42.

From the number of Major League Baseball’s first African-American, Jackie Robinson, to the pounds of granite used in the ancient Scottish ice sport of curling, 42 comes up a lot in sports, regardless of the score. The New England Patriots waited 42 years to win a national championship; – 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the first Super Bowl with a field goal. In October 2002, in their forty-second season, Gene Autry’s current Anaheim Angels won their first World Series.

2009 started as a year full of 42 years. The three biggest stories, Hudson River Hero, Peanut Butter and California Octopus, are inextricably linked to this number. Captain Sully Sullenberger had 42 years of flying experience before landing safely in Hudson. As of January 10th, King Nut announced the full recall of peanut butter, with 399 cases of salmonella in 42 states. California is in a budget crisis when Nadia Suleman gives birth to an octopus, raises her offspring to fourteen, and sparks a heated debate about the unfair burden on taxpayers. A loss? 42 billion dollars.

The number of people who died due to traffic accidents decreased in 42 states. As I’m doing the last edit of this article, I hear Charles Gibson say that 42% of prostate cancers are overdiagnosed. Will the 2009 government list include 42 foreign terrorist groups, as it did in April 2008?

This pop-culture and Sacred Numbers appear many times in history. The fact that Napoleon Bonaparte graduated forty-two out of fifty-eight proves once again that you don’t have to be at the top of your class to make history, but a high rank may have helped a little at Waterloo.

Ben Franklin worked in public service for 42 years. Our youngest president, Teddy Roosevelt, was 42 when he was inaugurated. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in 1955 when she was 42 years old. 42 years after Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, China has become the third country to send a man into space. Jung Lee Way Shun Jo circumnavigated the world 14 times in his 5 ships. I am forced to say that fourteen is one-third of 42.

42,000 feet is the upper limit for commercial aircraft. Captain Cook’s voyage covered 4,200 miles of ocean. $4,200 was Hoover’s average daily earnings, and a barrel of crude oil contains 42 gallons. 42, Who Can Forget Broadway?

Not all of Adam’s favorite number milestones are happy. In February 2003, NASA’s 42-year history of trouble-free reentry ended with the loss of space shuttle Columbia. Lenny Bruce, Gilda Radner and Elvis Presley have died at the age of 42. By the way, Elvis earned $42 million in 2006.

It is also in the Bible; Matthew divides the 42 generations between Abraham and Jesus into three groups of fourteen. In addition, the fourth-century Christian historian Eusebius of Caesarea believed that Jesus was born in the forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus.

Here in Florida! Florida has 42 bridges. National Geographic reported the displacement of a 350-ton Florida oak. Its root ball was 42 feet in diameter. In October 1995, all 42 members of the Governor’s Commission on a Sustainable South Florida issued a unanimous statement criticizing the state of the Everglades.

Literature also has 42 points. The wedding cake in Charles Dickens’ The Magic Fishbone is 42 meters away. In Tolkien’s Two Towers, Gimli the Dwarf kills 42 Orcs at the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller has 42 chapters. This makes me especially happy. JK Rowling completed the Harry Potter series in her forty-second year.

There are many things on my list that are no longer true. A 2001 study found that 42 percent of women thought their dogs were better listeners than their husbands. In 2004, we heard that 42 percent of NASCAR fans were women. In 2007, we learned that 42 percent of blind Americans were married. In fact, I grew tired of writing information from research and began to suspect that their authors were die-hard Adams fans.

My research left me with many questions. According to Discover in 2002, red blood cells only live 42 days? As PBS’s Nova said in 2002, are the ciphers on our currency still 1/42 inch high? Are there still 42 political parties in Iraq like in 2004? Does the US government still own 42% of Wyoming and New Mexico? As of 2007, Hewlett Packard Corporation still generates 42 percent of its profits from ink sales? Didn’t you always know it was stuck on us with those bullets?

And my personal life? Treasury of 42. At the age when my sister was able to send an email on her birthday. 42 degrees is the magic temperature where our cold weather dehumidifier stops working. Our piano tuner said the ideal humidity level for a piano is 42 percent – he doesn’t know my obsession. The addition my father built to our childhood home was 42 feet deep. Also, in 2006, when the gallbladder was removed, number 42 was included in the hospital’s Patient Rights and Duties list.

My husband’s Google search for my daughter’s second album turned up 42,000 hits, and the first one was on Harvest, a heavy metal website in Everitt, Pennsylvania, asking for $50 and selling it as a rare Christian CD. I resisted the urge to write and said I had a few left and would be happy to get the bargain basement price of … oh, $42.

And then there is astronomy itself. For example, how many years does daylight last at the poles of Uranus? And at night? 42. This phenomenon is due to the fact that the axis of the planet is almost perpendicular to the plane of its orbit.

I really wanted the nearest star to us to be 4.2 light years away. At first I thought it would be disappointing. The twin stars Alpha Centauri, often referred to as the closest outside our solar system, are 4.3 light-years away. But, wait! The famous twin star system contains a third, smaller star, Proxima Centauri, 4.2 light-years from Earth — 4.22 if you want to get technical.

After Adams’s death, two of the most interesting cases of his favorite number in astronomy appeared. In 2007, scientists discovered the dwarf galaxy Canis Major, named after its constellation, 42,000 light-years from the center of the Milky Way. The forty-second entry on my list is the Allen Telescope Array in the Cascade Mountains of Northern California, with 42 dishes each twenty feet in diameter. The search for extraterrestrial life began in 2006 with funding from Microsoft founder Paul Allen. Somehow, I think Adams would love it.

copyright 2009 Donna W. Hill

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