[Haskell-cafe] Who started 42, and when?
anthony_clayden at clear.net.nz
Sun Feb 3 23:13:46 EST 2008
The earliest use of 42 in English humour I know of is Lewis
Carroll's "Hunting of the Snark", written 1874 when the
author was aged 42. Wikipedia says it all, and refers to
Martin Gardner's "The Annotated Snark" (which is excellent).
Lewis Carroll is the pen name of Charles Dodgson - a
mathematician/logician. Gardner is of course a
mathematician/science writer with an interest in puzzles and
paradoxes. So although both rather pre-date functional
programming, I think we might say there's a similar streak
Sadly, Douglas Adams never revealed what language 'Deep
Thought' was programmed in, but perhaps the machine it was
'unworthy to design' was to run Haskell natively?
> The arbitrary constant was made popular by Douglas Adams
> the mid-1970s radio series ``A Hitchhikers Guide to the
> trilogy in 4 parts) --- however it does have a basis in
> model of physics --- a paper in Phys.Rev. of the early
> described the unification of the Electro-Weak and Strong
> forces --- the arbitrary constant (of nearly) 42 appears
> calculations. I forget the original paper but if you get
> 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
> ``42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything
> gravity and a few other arbitrary constants''
> Adams was interested in computing --- I think his reaction
> told about functional programming was to wonder what
> programming might be.
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