The Answer Really Is 42

Via one of my favorite blogs, Minding the Planet - For you Hitchhiker's Guide fans (I myself am not really much of one), this article will blow your minds:
There is an important sequence of numbers called "the moments of the Riemann zeta function." Although we know abstractly how to define it, mathematicians have had great difficulty explicitly calculating the numbers in the sequence. We have known since the 1920s that the first two numbers are 1 and 2, but it wasn't until a few years ago that mathematicians conjectured that the third number in the sequence may be 42—a figure greatly significant to those well-versed in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy... Using the connection, Keating and Snaith not only explained why the answer to life, the universe and the third moment of the Riemann zeta function should be 42, but also provided a formula to predict all the numbers in the sequence.

As Spivack says: 'You've heard of "Life Imitates Art," well this is "Life Imitates Humor" at it's best.'


p.s. I'm still not clear on what question 42 is answering...

1 comment:

yitz.. said...

obviously the question is, what's the next input in the riemann zeta function moment space following 2?

now we need to terraform another planet just to find out the meaning of the question behind the answer to everything..