Who started 42, and when?

Previous Topic Next Topic
 
classic Classic list List threaded Threaded
13 messages Options
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Who started 42, and when?

Loup Vaillant
I have read quite a lot of Haskell papers, lately, and noticed that
the number 42 appeared quite often, in informal tutorials as well as
in very serious research papers. No wonder Haskell is the Answer to
The Great Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything, but I would
like to know who started this, and when.

Google wasn't much help, and I can't believe it's coincidence --hence
this email. I hope I didn't opened some Pandora box. :-)

Cheers,
Loup
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

Denis Bueno
On Fri, Feb 1, 2008 at 9:03 AM, Loup Vaillant <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I have read quite a lot of Haskell papers, lately, and noticed that
>  the number 42 appeared quite often, in informal tutorials as well as
>  in very serious research papers. No wonder Haskell is the Answer to
>  The Great Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything, but I would
>  like to know who started this, and when.

I believe it was Douglas Adams, author of the "trilogy" "Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy".  You may enjoy reading it, if you haven't.

--
 Denis
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

clconway
In reply to this post by Loup Vaillant
Loup,

This is not unique to the Haskell community. I suspect the arbitrary
constant 42 has been appearing unexplained in research papers for as
long as there have been computer scientists who were sci-fi geeks
(absolutely no offense intended to geeks ;-). It would be very
difficult indeed to figure out who did this first, without some highly
dedicated library research.

Chris

On Feb 1, 2008 9:03 AM, Loup Vaillant <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I have read quite a lot of Haskell papers, lately, and noticed that
> the number 42 appeared quite often, in informal tutorials as well as
> in very serious research papers. No wonder Haskell is the Answer to
> The Great Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything, but I would
> like to know who started this, and when.
>
> Google wasn't much help, and I can't believe it's coincidence --hence
> this email. I hope I didn't opened some Pandora box. :-)
>
> Cheers,
> Loup
> _______________________________________________
> Haskell-Cafe mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
>
>
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

Janis Voigtlaender
In reply to this post by Denis Bueno
Denis Bueno wrote:

> On Fri, Feb 1, 2008 at 9:03 AM, Loup Vaillant <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>>I have read quite a lot of Haskell papers, lately, and noticed that
>> the number 42 appeared quite often, in informal tutorials as well as
>> in very serious research papers. No wonder Haskell is the Answer to
>> The Great Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything, but I would
>> like to know who started this, and when.
>
>
> I believe it was Douglas Adams, author of the "trilogy" "Hitchhiker's
> Guide to the Galaxy".  You may enjoy reading it, if you haven't.

I think Loup is aware of the hitchhiker books (see the reference to the
Great Question of ... Everything).

So unless Douglas Adams wrote some Haskell papers I am not aware of, the
original question is still open ;-)

Happy weekend...
Janis.

--
Dr. Janis Voigtlaender
http://wwwtcs.inf.tu-dresden.de/~voigt/
mailto:[hidden email]
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

Loup Vaillant
In reply to this post by clconway
2008/2/1, Christopher L Conway <[hidden email]>:
> Loup,
>
> This is not unique to the Haskell community. I suspect the arbitrary
> constant 42 has been appearing unexplained in research papers for as
> long as there have been computer scientists who were sci-fi geeks
> (absolutely no offense intended to geeks ;-). It would be very
> difficult indeed to figure out who did this first, without some highly
> dedicated library research.

I suspected this. Just that I didn't noticed 42 but in Haskell papers.
Maybe this is just a bias due to my recent interests. I should check
some C/C++/Lisp/Ocaml papers.

About the library search, Maybe it is possible to try a giant "grep"
on all papers in ACM Portal, or CiteSeer?

Loup
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

clconway
On Feb 1, 2008 9:27 AM, Loup Vaillant <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I suspected this. Just that I didn't noticed 42 but in Haskell papers.
> Maybe this is just a bias due to my recent interests. I should check
> some C/C++/Lisp/Ocaml papers.
>
> About the library search, Maybe it is possible to try a giant "grep"
> on all papers in ACM Portal, or CiteSeer?

I tried this briefly on the ACM. You need to be able to exclude
citations, footnotes, volume numbers, etc., and their "Advanced
Search" is not quite that advanced. :-)

Chris
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

Denis Bueno
In reply to this post by Janis Voigtlaender
On Fri, Feb 1, 2008 at 9:19 AM, Janis Voigtlaender
<[hidden email]> wrote:
>  I think Loup is aware of the hitchhiker books (see the reference to the
>  Great Question of ... Everything).

Ah, I didn't read that correctly.  I assumed that something he read
something that had described Haskell as the answer to Life, the
Universe, and Everything.

Sorry about that.

--
 Denis
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

Phil Molyneux
In reply to this post by Loup Vaillant
Hi --- The arbitrary constant was made popular by Douglas Adams in  
the mid-1970s radio series ``A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'' (a  
trilogy in 4 parts) --- however it does have a basis in the standard  
model of physics --- a paper in Phys.Rev. of the early 1970s  
described the unification of the Electro-Weak and Strong nuclear  
forces --- the arbitrary constant (of nearly) 42 appears in the  
calculations. I forget the original paper but if you get hold of  
Frank Close ``The Cosmic Onion'' a graph reproduces the result. I met  
Douglas Adams once at a book signing and asked him how he got hold of  
the Phys.Rev. paper so early. Technically he should have written that  
``42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything except for  
gravity and a few other arbitrary constants''

Adams was interested in computing --- I think his reaction to being  
told about functional programming was to wonder what non-functional  
programming might be.

Phil

On 1 Feb 2008, at 14:03, Loup Vaillant wrote:

> I have read quite a lot of Haskell papers, lately, and noticed that
> the number 42 appeared quite often, in informal tutorials as well as
> in very serious research papers. No wonder Haskell is the Answer to
> The Great Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything, but I would
> like to know who started this, and when.
>
> Google wasn't much help, and I can't believe it's coincidence --hence
> this email. I hope I didn't opened some Pandora box. :-)
>
> Cheers,
> Loup
> _______________________________________________
> Haskell-Cafe mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
>
> This email has been scanned for all viruses by the MessageLabs Email
> Security System.


This email has been scanned for all viruses by the MessageLabs Email
Security System.
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

Colin Paul Adams
>>>>> "Phil" == Phil Molyneux <[hidden email]> writes:

    Phil> Adams was interested in computing --- I think his reaction
    Phil> to being told about functional programming was to wonder
    Phil> what non-functional programming might be.

Curiously, that was my reaction too when i first heard of the term
(from a university student who was complaining that it was too hard).
--
Colin Adams
Preston Lancashire
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

Martin Lüthi
In reply to this post by Phil Molyneux
Hi

Phil Molyneux <[hidden email]> writes:

> Hi --- The arbitrary constant was made popular by Douglas Adams in the
> mid-1970s radio series ``A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'' (a  trilogy in 4
> parts) --- however it does have a basis in the standard  model of physics ---
> a paper in Phys.Rev. of the early 1970s  described the unification of the
> Electro-Weak and Strong nuclear  forces --- the arbitrary constant (of nearly)
> 42 appears in the  calculations. I forget the original paper but if you get
> hold of  Frank Close ``The Cosmic Onion'' a graph reproduces the result. I met
> Douglas Adams once at a book signing and asked him how he got hold of  the
> Phys.Rev. paper so early. Technically he should have written that  ``42 is the
> answer to life, the universe and everything except for  gravity and a few
> other arbitrary constants''

In the Japanese culture the number 42 has a very special meaning. I
realized that while discussing cultural differences with a Japanese.
Pronouncing 42 sounds like "death" or "to die". No hotel in Japan has a
room 42.

After knowing that it is hard to think that Doug Adams was not aware of
that meaning.

Best, Tinu

_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

Tim Chevalier
In reply to this post by Colin Paul Adams
To pre-empt the next couple of questions, the numbers 17 and 23 are
from _The Illuminatus! Trilogy_ by Robert Shea and Robert Anton
Wilson, and the number 37 is from the Jersey Trilogy of movies by
Kevin Smith.

Cheers,
Tim

--
Tim Chevalier * http://cs.pdx.edu/~tjc * Often in error, never in doubt
"I'm a nonbeliever, but I believe in your smile." -- Laura Nyro
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Who started 42, and when?

jerzy.karczmarczuk
In reply to this post by Martin Lüthi
Martin Lüthi:

> In the Japanese culture the number 42 has a very special meaning. I
> realized that while discussing cultural differences with a Japanese.
> Pronouncing 42 sounds like "death" or "to die". No hotel in Japan has a
> room 42.
>
> After knowing that it is hard to think that Doug Adams was not aware of
> that meaning.

Phil Molyneux:
> ... it does have a basis in the standard  model of physics ---
> a paper in Phys.Rev. of the early 1970s  described the unification of the
> Electro-Weak and Strong nuclear  forces --- the arbitrary constant
> (of nearly) 42 appears in the  calculations. I forget the original paper
> but if you get hold of  Frank Close ``The Cosmic Onion'' a graph
> reproduces the result. I met Douglas Adams once at a book signing and
> asked him how he got hold of  the Phys.Rev. paper so early. Technically he
> should have written that  ``42 is the answer to life, the universe and
> everything except for  gravity and a few other arbitrary constants''


Bother...!

You will discover the third (or the sixth?) moment of the Riemann zeta
function which has this 42 in it, and without doubt, you will find
something in Talmud and the Pyramides. And the mass of the Galaxy which
is 3*10^42.
And it takes light 10^(-42) sec. to cross the diameter of a proton,
although if I were light, I wouldn'd do such silly thing. Fortunately
I am heavy.

And at least one of YOU is 42 years old, and I was once. (Yes, the number
1 which is even more magical).

Perhaps before claiming before you know really something, because Adams
told you so personally, you have a look here.

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.douglas-adams/msg/d1064f7b27808692?dm
ode=source&hl=en

... And if you run a non-optimized Haskell program which computes the
Fibonacci of 42, then you have to wait so long, that you must build a
special Supercomputer for it. It has, BTW. been built, and it is called
the "haskell-cafe mailing list".

Jerzy Karczmarczuk


_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Re: Who started 42, and when?

Benjamin L. Russell
In reply to this post by Martin Lüthi
That depends partly on how 42 it is pronounced.
Normally, it is pronounced "yon-juu-ni," which has no
relevance to "death."  However, it is also possible to
pronounce it "shi-ni," which also means "to die."
Incidentally, it is the 4 part of 42 that is
pronounced "shi," which alternatively means "death,"
and I have heard that there is also no hotel room in
Japan with the number 4.  (However, there are hotel
rooms here with the number 13.)  (Also, items in
department stores are never sold (at least to my
knowledge) in sets of 4.)

In addition, the age 42 is considered a major
climacteric age for men in Japan as well (for those
who can read Japanese, see the Japanese Wikipedia
entry for "yaku-doshi" (climacteric year))
(http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%8E%84%E5%B9%B4).
(In general, the ages of 25, 42, and 61 are considered
climacteric ages for men, and the ages of 19, 33, and
37 are considered climacteric for women, with 33 being
the major climacteric age for women.  Incidentally, 33
is pronounced "san-zan," which means "disastrous.")

Does anybody else know of any culture where the number
42 holds special meaning; if so, what special meaning?

Benjamin L. Russell

--- Martin Lüthi <[hidden email]> wrote:

> [snip]
>
> In the Japanese culture the number 42 has a very
> special meaning. I
> realized that while discussing cultural differences
> with a Japanese.
> Pronouncing 42 sounds like "death" or "to die". No
> hotel in Japan has a
> room 42.
_______________________________________________
Haskell-Cafe mailing list
[hidden email]
http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe