This article is from the Douglas Adams FAQ, by Nathan Hughes firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Yes, 6 times 9 equals 54. Yes, 6 times 9 equals 42 in base thirteen,
and we don't want to know about the implications for the number of
fingers on cavemen.
The bit about monkeys was a reference to someone's comment that if you
get an infinite number of monkeys at typewriters, eventually one will
bash out a script to Hamlet. If you want to discuss probability,
quantum physics or anything else that has nothing to do with Douglas
Adams, bugger off to another group.
DNA himself has said:
The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be
a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that
one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are
all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the
garden and thought `42 will do'. I typed it out. End of
And if you STILL won't believe it, here's the answers that were in the books
themselves. So consider yourself informed.
Well, of course it's...ehm...uh.. oh, I forgot.
I know, but nobody asked me.
Six times 9 is forty-two.
How many roads must a man walk down? Forty-two.
The square root of minus one is forty-two.
<Deducted from several facts about marvin>
Pick a number, any number
/Marvin, to the Mattress
Pick your favourite one, and shut up about it already!
(As an aside, Lewis Carroll was also obsessed with the number 42.)