## Posts tagged ‘42’

### Approximate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Douglas Adams wrote that 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Today is 11/18/13, a date whose numbers sum to 42, so it seems an appropriate time to talk about variations on this important number.

**40**

The approximate answer.

**41.99**

The retail price of the answer.

**51.19**

The price of the answer after tax and tip.

**39.06**

The price of the answer at Wal-Mart.

**XLII**

The Roman answer.

**101010**

The binary answer.

**41.9999999982**

The answer as computed by an Intel Pentium processor.

**42*** i
*The imaginary answer.

**44**

The address of the answer’s next door neighbor.

**00042**

The ZIP code of the answer.

**42.00000**

The high-precision answer.

### Mathy Birthday Problems

Last week, I turned 42. Here’s a math problem related to that number.

Take 27 cubes, numbered consecutively from 1 to 27. Arrange them into a magic cube so that every row, column, corridor, and space diagonal has a sum of 42.

If that’s too much for ya, try this problem instead. It’s a slight modification of a math problem that appeared on the birthday card given to me by colleagues.

Two men my age go out for drinks at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night. One of them drinks six 12-ounce beers, each of which is 8% ABV. The other drinks four Lynchburg lemonades, each of which contains one ounce of 80-proof Jack Daniels and one ounce of 60-proof triple sec. Assuming the men are the same size, which one gets more drunk?

The answer to the first question can be found at Math Palette.

The answer to the second one? Trick question. Men my age don’t go out after 10 o’clock.

### Math Coinky-Dinks

I’m a math guy, so I know that most coincidences are nothing more than people making a big deal out of something that, in fact, is quite likely. I’m not impressed when two people at a cocktail party have the same birthday or when nearly 30% of the people at that same party have a street address that begins with the digit 1.

Nor was I impressed when the Oregon newspaper *The* *Colombian* printed a winning number for the state lottery *in advance*. The probability that the number they accidentally printed on June 27, 2000, which was 6-8-5-5, would actually win the Pick 4 game the following day was 1/10,000. Not likely, to be sure, but not out of the question.

But is it just a coincidence that Douglas Adams claimed that 42 is “the answer to life, the universe, and everything,” and that Oreo cookies can be obtained by pressing 42 on the vending machine in my office?

And is it just a coincidence that ELEVEN + TWO = TWELVE + ONE?

Well, yeah. Probably.

**But something happened yesterday that was so strange, it cannot be brushed aside as mere coincidence.**

My son Alex was home sick from school. Around two o’clock, he said, “Daddy, I smell blood.” I checked to make sure he wasn’t bleeding… then I checked to make sure that I wasn’t bleeding, either. There was no blood to be found. A couple of hours later, we went to pick up his twin brother Eli at school, and Miss Vanessa at after-school care told me that Eli had an accident.

“He fell and hurt his knee,” she said, “and there was blood everywhere.”

Blood? I asked what time that happened. “Around two o’clock,” she said.

*Freaky.*

With twin boys, I suspect that there will be similar coincidences in the future. For instance, I suspect that I will one day receive a call saying that both boys were caught in a co-ed dorm after curfew. How weird would that be?

But I’m not phased. Coincidences are very common in my family. For example, my mother and father got married on the same day!

To check out some truly random statistical coincidences, click on over to www.coincidenceithinknot.com.

The following joke is based on a fun math coincidence.

Saul: It’s -40 outside.

Paul: Fahrenheit or Celsius?

Saul: When it’s that cold, it’s impossible to tell the difference.

It’s just a coincidence that -40° F = -40° C.

Or is it?