Here is the Ultimate Question for which THE Answer is 42


“Forty Two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm. [p. 120, The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, paperback, 2002].

The readers of Doug, the First Man on Earth, Adams, have been wondering since 1986, what is the Ultimate Question of the Life, the Universe and Everything, for which Deep Thought gave the answer as 42. When goaded for finding the question as well, it fell silent, not before telling us all that Earth is the computer (The One after me!), which is supposed to generate the answer. Of course, as part of Earth, we, the organic parts of the computer, all have THE answer, er, THE question printed in our mind, at least partially.

After 20 years from 1986, I think I have the answer as to what is THE question for which the answer 42 makes sense. Not just any sense, a sense, which is at once silly, sinister and sublime; quirky, perky and philosophic; a sense that Doug would have approved of – to have made any sense at all.

See if you agree.

Prof. Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, an integral part of the organic matter of the Earth computer, a friend of Doug, a person who has a better grip of how our past should have been to have us as the present, creates in his The Ancestor’s Tale (Orion Paperback, UK, 2004), the concept of a Concestor.

To explain further, if we were to trace back in time, how Life de-evolved(!), it would be a tale of backward chronology about our ancestors. In this tale, the ancestors of any set of species must eventually meet at a particular geological moment in the past. Their rendezvous is the last common ancestor that these set of species share. So this common ancestor is the first Concestor for that set of species. Proceeding backwards in time, in this fashion, the grand ancestor of all surviving life is the oldest concestor, or the origin of life itself.

We can be very sure that there is a single concestor of all of the surviving life on this Earth, the computer of Doug’s imagination, destined to find THE Question. In fact this Grand Concestor should have lived more than 3 billion years back. For doubters, I would suggest Prof. Dawkins book The Ancestor’s Tale. You can read that 685 page paperback to get convinced instead of believing me about the certainty of one grand-dadadada… concestor.

So, for instance, if we arbitrarily start with homosapiens as a species from the present day, and proceed with the backward chronology, the first fellow species we will meet, 5 million years ago, would be the Chimpanzees, in Africa. The Chimpanzees and Bonobos would have ‘already’ met ‘before’ we meet them (notice and appreciate the opposite meaning of the words in inverted commas, in this backward chronology!).

The next members of our family is the Gorillas and we meet them in a longer past, perhaps not in Africa anymore. Next is the Gibbons…and it goes on, backwards. I think you can get the drift. And so on until we start meeting our ancestors no longer in the land and the trees but in the sea.

Now let us use the idea of Concestor to explain the above scenario.

Concestor 0 in this scenario means, a special case, the most recent ancestor of all surviving humans – perhaps Doug Adams, without the Doug!

Concestor 1 is the common ancestor between all of the human species and chimpanzees, when human and chimpanzees met in the 5 million year ago focal point. Concestor 2, whom we would meet in Rendezvous 2 is the most common ancestor of Gorillas on the one hand and {humans + {chimpanzees + Bonobos}} on the other. Remember, Chimpanzees ‘met’ the Bonobos before ‘they’ met us. Concestor 3 is the most recent common ancestor of Orang utans and {{humans + {chimpanzees + Bonobos}} + Gorillas}.

OK, enough of this. Where is 42?

It seems, and I am convinced after having told by Prof. Dawkins, a better organic part of the Earth computer in his book, that we humans pass only abot 40 rendezvous points in all, before meeting the Origin of Life itself. This means, starting with Concestor 0, we have 40 Concestors and 40 rendezvous to go through before we hit the Life.

The Earth existed before this Life on Earth itself begun. Meaning, we need the Earth to ‘evolve’ into a state from its past, to a state where Life could originate in it. This could be interpreted as (because it is convenient for me to write this essay, by doing this), the Earth, as an evolving species, has to have a Concestor and rendezvous with the rest of the Universe (treated as a life form because it also evolves), at a focal point, whose exact time in the past is not clear. In other words, it takes, as you would agree my gentle believing reader, one more concestor and rendezvous for Life (at least on Earth) to ‘meet’ with, the evovling Universe, from which, Earth and its Life forms, off-shoot. That makes it 41.

Likewise, the Universe, owes it origin, to the concestor of itself and…

God, the Everything!

Hence the answer to the Ultimate Question to the Life, the Universe and Everything is this: In How Many Steps Man could reach God?

Of course, the silly and sublime answer is 42.