The answer to Life the Universe and Everything …

is 42, as is well-known:

The actual question, to which the answer is 42, is not known, but a lesser known long standing question involving this number has recently been solved:

The original problem, set in 1954 at the University of Cambridge, looked for Solutions of the Diophantine Equation x^3+y^3+z^3=k, with k being all the numbers from one to 100.  42 was the last remaining number (for which a solution is possible), but recently a solution was found by a team led by the University of Bristol and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  The answer is:

(-80538738812075974)^3 + 80435758145817515^3 + 12602123297335631^3

If we try to check this result in Excel we find that the available 15 significant figure accuracy is not quite up to the job:

But calling the mpmath package, via pyxll, finds that the solution is indeed correct:

This entry was posted in Computing - general, Excel, Maths, Newton, PyXLL and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The answer to Life the Universe and Everything …

  1. Matija Bandić says:

    Great stuff! Now we know that question must have greater meaning & complexity than answer. It is proven that answers have to be back engineered to get its purpose. Keep up with good work!


  2. Pingback: More powers of 3 | Newton Excel Bach, not (just) an Excel Blog

  3. Paul Halsema says:

    Actually if you follow the details a bit, Deep Thought designed a much more complicated computer to determine the true understanding of the question for which the answer is 42. Skipping forward quite a bit, the question is: “What do you get when you multiply 6 by 9?” Don’t forget that the philosophers that designed Deep Thought had 13 digits on their hands…


    • dougaj4 says:

      Paul – I checked the YouTube link and was disappointed to find the girls only had 20 fingers between the two of them. I guess actors with 13 digits are hard to find.


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