42, the meaning of life


Jan 17, 2014
As for me, if I knew how to solve all the problems of the world, I would jump right in. But since I don't, I would rather retreat to a subject that is more within my compass of competence.

Can you tell it to others?


Record Breaker
Jun 21, 2003
Can you tell it to others?

I am not sure what the "it" refers to in this sentence. No, I do not know how to solve all the problems of the world. If I did, then yes I suppose I would tell it to others (not too loudly, though -- I would figure I was probably wrong ;) ).

What I would try to avoid is mocking and holding in scorn the attempts of other people to imrove their own lot and and the lot of their fellow sojourners, even when their well-intentioned efforts don't turn out as well as they hope, or even when trying to solve one problem creates another.


Record Breaker
Jun 21, 2003
Wait! I was wrong. 42 is not the secret to the universe. It's 73.

How do I know? the year on earth is 365 days. 365 = 5x73.

The synodic period of Venus is 584 days, during which it goes through it's eight phases: New Venus, Quarter Venus waxing (as the morning star), half-Venus, three-quarter Venus, and full Venus, then the waning cycle as the Evening Star, thee quarters, half, quarter, and back to the New Venus of the next cycle. Each phase lasts exactlty 73 days. 8x73 =584.

Furthermore, 73x11x101x1096 = 88888888 (Eight 8's for the 8 phases of venus)

73[SUP]2[/SUP]x11[SUP]2[/SUP]]x101[SUP]2[/SUP]x137[SUP]2[/SUP] = 123456787654321 (a mathematical palindrome) :)
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Dr Flutz

Match Penalty
May 26, 2020
Also, if you divide each of the above numbers by zero, you may finally see the:
_____ of your ways.


a dark lord
Final Flight
Oct 16, 2017
Also included on the list was, God cannot create a triangle whose angles do not add up to 180 degrees. Why not? Because Euclid said so. Euclid trumps God, in the view of Saint Thomas.
The real question is, if God can make Euclid have said otherwise. Has Thomas considered time travel paradoxes? :)

What if you have a triangle where two of the sides are lying right on top of each other, with the third side having length zero. Is that a triangle? Euclid would had said no. And yet, if you think abut it, the three angles are 90 degrees, 90 degrees and 0 degrees, which does add up to 180.
Except that an angle with a zero-length side is undefined. Unless you define a new geometry, which seems to be a popular panacea for all mathematical problems. :biggrin:

Have we (pre Wiles' result) "proved that no computational algorithm exists that will decide the issue?"
Umm... I can't remember why I made this assumption a year ago. :scratch2:

Is the answer to this decidability question different before and after 1996?
The problem of Fermat's theorem correctness has always been decidable (by default or due to actual existence of a solution). But in my hypothetical case:
Once you prove that a problem can't be solved analytically or by exhaustive enumerating, it becomes undecidable.
Once you bump into a counterexample, the problem again becomes decidable, because you can write an algorithm that re-checks this single example.

Mathematicians and physicists are gluttons for punishment. They want their models to turn out to be wrong.
Self-criticism is a skill that one needs to practice constantly. Unfortunately, even scientists often fail to do so. And even modern science as an institution often punishes researchers for being patient and honest.

Aristotle, for instance, loudly asserted that women (being inferior) have fewer teeth than men. All he would have had to do was count them. But he didn't, because he "already knew the answer" -- why bother to count?
I bet none of the modern philosophers bothered to count teeth either. :)

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Arm Chair Skate Fan
Record Breaker
Jul 26, 2003
As fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy recall, in the far future scientists set their massive computers to work to answer the question, What is the meaning of life? After a few million years, the computer had finished its work and delivered the answer: 42.

(Unfortunately, everyone had forgotten what the question was.)

Recently a team of mathematicians, tapping into idle time on a network of 500,000 computers, has plumbed the depths of this mystery. 42 can be written as the sum of three cubes!!!

(-80538738812075974)[SUP]3[/SUP] + (80435758145817515)[SUP]3[/SUP] + (12602123297335631)[SUP]3[/SUP] = 42

I mean there was significance to my login name Mathman!