Significant Number Factoid Friday – Today Number Forty-Two 42

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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They’ve been ‘beautiful’,  they’ve been ‘big’  and they’ve been ‘unusual’.  Today we have another  ‘significant’ number, forty-two, so-called because of its use and the beliefs surrounding it.

Enjoy.

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42 Forty-Two

42

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In Religion

  • In Japanese culture, the number 42 is considered unlucky because the numerals when pronounced separately — “shi ni” (four two) — sound like the phrase, “unto death”;
  • There are 42 principles of Ma’at, the Ancient Egyptian personification of physical and moral law, order, and truth. In the judgement scene described in the Egyptian and the Book of the Coming/Going Forth by Day, there are 42 gods and goddesses of Egypt, personifying the principles of Ma’at. These 42 correspond to the 42 Nomes (Governmental Units) of Egypt. If the departed successfully answers all 42, s/he becomes an Osiris;
  • 42 is the number with which God creates the Universe in Kabbalistic tradition; 
  • In Judaism, the number (in the Babylonian Talmud, compiled 375 AD to 499 AD) of the “Forty-Two Lettered Name” ascribed to God. Rab (or Rabhs), a 3rd century source in the Talmud stated “The Forty-Two Lettered Name is entrusted only to him who is pious, meek, middle-aged, free from bad temper, sober, and not insistent on his rights”. 
  • 42 is a sacred Tibetan number and there is also a 42 armed Hindu God;
  • The first book to be printed with movable type, the Gutenberg Bible, is also known as the “42-line Bible”, as the book contained 42 lines per page;
  • The Forty-Two Articles (1552), largely the work of Thomas Cranmer, were intended to summarise Anglican doctrine, as it now existed under the reign of Edward VI..

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In The Bible

  • Forty Two, 3½ and 1260 – this is the amount that is given to the wicked or for people to bear fruit. Judgment occurs at the end. It is based on the law that God only expects results after the third year of planting (Leviticus 19: 23-25);
  • This time period appears in many prophecies as 1260 days, 42 months or 3½ years. It is the period that God allows the beast to operate. Notice that this is equal to 6 x 7 months. It is man’s portion of the jubilee cycle; 
  • Two female bears kill forty two children after they ridiculed the prophet of God. 2 Kings 2: 24; 
  • 42 Cities are given to the Levites in addition to six cities of refuge (Numbers 35: 6); 
  • 42 men of Beth-azmaveth were counted in the census of men of Israel upon return from exile (Ezra 2:24); 
  • Israel camped 42 times in the wilderness during the 40 year exodus. 
  • The goat’s hair and linen curtains covering the sanctuary have a length of 42 and 40 cubits. 
  • Jesus was forty two generations from Abraham. (Matthew 1).

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In Mathematics

  • 42 is the product of the first three terms of Sylvester’s sequence; like the first five such numbers it is also a primary pseudoperfect number;
  • 42 is a partition number – the number of different ways 10 can be represented as the sum of natural numbers;
  • 42 is a Størmer number;
  • 42 is a perfect score on the USA Math Olympiad (USAMO) and International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).
Simple Magic Cube adding to 42
Simple Magic Cube adding to 42

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In Science

  • 42 is the atomic number of molybdenum;
  • 42 is the value of the angle rounded to whole degrees for which a rainbow appears (the critical angle);
  • In 1966, mathematician Paul Cooper theorized that the fastest, most efficient way to travel across continents would be to bore a straight hollow tube directly through the Earth, connecting a set of antipodes, evacuate it (remove the air), and then just fall through. The first half of the journey consists of free-fall acceleration, while the second half consists of an exactly equal deceleration. The time for such a journey works out to be 42 minutes. Remarkably, even if the tube does not pass through the exact center of the Earth, the time for a journey powered entirely by gravity (also known as Gravity train) always works out to be 42 minutes, as long as the tube remains friction-free, as while gravity’s force would be lessened, so would the distance traveled at an equal rate. (The same idea was proposed, without calculation by Lewis Carroll in 1893 in Sylvie and Bruno Concluded.)
Gravity Train Concept
Gravity Train Concept

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In Technology

  • The glyph, or character, corresponding to the number 42 in the ASCII character set, is *, the asterisk, commonly known as the wildcard character;
  • In the TIFF image file format, the second 16-bit word of every file is 42, which is used together with the first word to indicate byte order;
  • In the reiser4 file system, 42 is the inode number of the root directory;
  • In the military IRIG 106 Chapter 10 data recording standard, the hex value 0x464F52545974776F (ASCII “FORTYtwo”) is used as a magic number to identify directory blocks;
  • The GNU C Library, a set of standard routines available for use in computer programming, contains a function—memfrob()—which performs an XOR combination of a given variable and the binary pattern 00101010 (42) as an XOR cipher;
  • 42 is the result given by the web search engines Google and Wolfram Alpha when the query “the answer to life the universe and everything” is entered as a search.

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In Space

  • Messier object M42, a magnitude 5.0 diffuse nebula in the constellation Orion, also known as the Orion Nebula;
  • The New General Catalogue object NGC 42, is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Pegasus;
  • In January 2004, asteroid 2001 DA42 was given the permanent name 25924 Douglasadams, for the author Douglas Adams who popularized the number 42 and died in 2001; 
  • Kepler-42, is a red dwarf in the constellation Cygnus around which orbits the three smallest exoplanets found to date.
Messier-42 also known as the Orion Nebula
Messier-42 also known as the Orion Nebula

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In Politics

  • The 42nd President of the Unites States of America was Democratic Party William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton, from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001. Vice President was Al Gore. Remembered more for ‘blow-jobs’ in the White House, Clinton’s Presidency also oversaw the disastrous Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, that repealed the parts of the Glass–Steagall Act which had not already been repealed. This 1999 Act took down barriers to competition between traditional banks, investment banks, and insurance companies, in some cases allowing firms to participate in all three markets thus making distinctions between these categories less clear. It has been held largely responsible for the current financial crisis. 
Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America
Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America

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In Sport

  • 42 is the jersey number of Jackie Robinson, which is the only number retired by all Major League Baseball teams. Although the number was retired in 1997, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, the last professional baseball player to wear number 42, is currently still using it;
  • 42 is the jersey number of basketball Hall of Famer and one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History James Worthy, small forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, who retired his jersey number in 1995;
  • 42 is the jersey number of football Hall of Famer, Ronnie Lott, safety for the San Francisco 49ers, who retired his jersey number in 2003;
  • 42 is the jersey number of Chicago Bears legend Sid Luckman, which was retired by the Bears; 
  • 42 is the jersey number of Pat Tillman, which was retired on November 13, 2004 by Arizona State University; 
  • 42 is the number of laws of cricket;
  • 42 is the number of kilometers in a marathon;
  • 42 is the number of a NASCAR car owned by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. It is currently being driven by former F1 star and Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya;

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

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In Militaria

  • XB-42
  • The most notable aircraft with the 42 designation was the XB-42 ‘Mixmaster’. This aircraft was developed initially as a private venture and an unsolicited proposal was presented to the United States Army Air Forces in May 1943 which resulted in an Air Force contract for two prototypes and one static test airframe, the USAAF seeing an intriguing possibility of finding a bomber capable of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress’ range without its size or cost.
  • The aircraft was unusual in design in that it had a pair of Allison V-1710-125 liquid-cooled V-12 engines mounted behind the crew’s cabin, each driving one of the twin propellers which protruded from the rear of the aircraft’s fuselage. The pilot and co-pilot sat under twin bubble canopies, and the bombardier sat in the extreme front behind a plexiglass nose.
  • The first XB-42 was delivered to the Army Air Force and flew at Palm Springs, California on 6 May 1944. Performance was excellent, being basically as described in the original proposal; as fast or faster than the de Havilland Mosquito but with defensive armament and twice the bombload. The twin bubble canopies proved a bad idea as communications were adversely affected and a single bubble canopy was substituted after the first flight, a problem that could have been rectified, but the end of World War II changed priorities and the advent of the jet engine gave an alternative way toward achieving high speed.
XB-42 'Mixmaster' and model
XB-42 ‘Mixmaster’ and model

 

  • AG-42
  • The AG-42 rifle (official designation Halvautomatiskt Gevaer 42) was developed by Swedish engineer Erik Eklund while working at company C. J. Ljungman AB. Officially adopted by Swedish army in 1942, this rifle served in Sweden until mid-1960s, when it was replaced in service with 7.62mm AK-4 rifle (license-build HK G3 rifle).
AG-42B Rifle
AG-42B Rifle

 

  • MKb.42
  • In 1939 HWaA (Hitler’s army Weapons command) issued a contract for the development of a “Maschinen karabiner”, or machine carbine (MKb for short), chambered for the new 7.92×33 Kurz cartridge, to the company C.G. Haenel Waffen und Fahrradfabrik.
  • The famous designer Hugo Schmeisser led the Haenel development team, which produced the first working prototypes of new weapon by 1942. The new weapon was intended as a replacement for submachine guns, bolt action rifles and, partly, light machine guns for front troops. The MKb.42(H) could be fitted with standardbayonet, and has a wooden butt. 
mkb 42h-1 rifle
mkb 42h-1 ri

 

  • MG 42
  • A cheaper to produce but much more reliable replacement for the MG 34, the MG 42 was officially adopted as the MG 42, and production commenced in 1941.
  • In general terms, the MG 42 was a great success. It fulfilled the roles of a light machine gun on a bipod, a medium machine gun (on a newly developed Lafette 42 tripod), and an anti-aircraft machine gun, mounted in single and twin installations, ground and vehicle-mounted. 
  • After the WW2 the MG 42, unlike other wartime designs, lived on, as in 1958, the FRG (WestGermany) re-instituted its official armed force, known as the Bundeswehr. 
  • The simplicity, low manufacturing cost and high effectiveness of the MG 3 attracted several other countries, which either bought the guns from Rheinmetall (such as Denmark), or obtained manufacturing licenses and build (or at least have built in the past) the same guns domestically (such as Italy, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Yugoslavia). In total, at least twenty armies have used or still are using the MG 3 and its versions.
mg42 machine gun
mg42 machine gun

 

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In Books, Movies & TV

  • The 42nd Parallel is the first of a trilogy of books, (the others being 1919, and The Big Money), written by John Dos Passos and acclaimed by many to be the great American novel;
  • English author Douglas Noel Adams popularized the number 42 in his best known work called the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. The number 42 and the phrase, “Life, the universe, and everything” have attained cult status on the Internet. If you type the answer to life, the universe and everything into Google (without quotes or capitalising the small words), the Google Calculator will give you 42; also, if you go to Wolfram’s Computational Knowledge Engine and type “answer to life, the universe, and everything”, it provides you with the result 42. Microsoft’s Bing search engine will also give you 42. Alphasmart 3000’s calculator, when given any equation that results in 42, will display, “The answer to life, the universe, and everything”. In the online community “Second Life,” there is a section on a sim called “42nd Life”;
  • In the Stargate Atlantis Season 4 episode “Quarantine”, 42 are the last two digits in Rodney McKay’s password. After John Sheppard explains to Teyla the meaning of the previous twelve digits, she asks him what 42 is. Then, John says, “It’s the ultimate answer to the great question of life, the universe, and everything,” at which point Teyla looks confused;
  • In the TV show Lost, 42 is the last of the mysterious numbers, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42;
  • In Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Alex browses through records in a record store and we see a record of the, at this time fictional, band Level 42;
  • “42” is an episode of Doctor Who, set in real time lasting approximately 42 minutes;
  • “The Kumars at No. 42” is the name of a 2003 BBC television series; 
  • A made for TV movie 42: Forty Two Up – an installment in a series of documentaries wherein the director revisits the same group of British-born individuals every 7 years;
  • On the game show Jeopardy!, “Watson” the IBM supercomputer, has 42 “threads” in its avatar;
  • On the Unusuals TV-show there’s an episode called “42”. Detective Leo Banks recently turned 42. On account of his father, uncle, and grandfather dropping dead at 42, Leo is convinced he’ll share their fate. There were 42s all over the episode.
42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos

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Other Stuff

  • In New York City, 42nd Street is a main and very popular two-way thoroughfare. Landmarks on it include the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, the main branch of the New York Public Library, and Times Square; 
  • Tower 42, originally called the NatWest Tower because it was built for the National Westminster Bank, is the tallest skyscraper in the city of London and the fifth tallest in London as a whole;
  • +42 is the historic Country calling code for the former country of Czechoslovakia; 
  • 42 is the number of US gallons in a barrel of oil;
  • 42 is the number of spots (or pips, circular patches or pits) on a pair of standard six-sided dice;
  • 42 is a free tabloid devoted to technology news in Huntsville, Alabama. It is published by the Huntsville Times and is named for “The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”;
  • Fictional comic book superhero Miles Morales is bitten by a genetically altered spider with a red 42 marked on its abdomen. Morales later assumes the role of Spider-Man as a result of the bite and following the death of Peter Parker in the Ultimate Marvel universe from Marvel Comics. Morales also wins a coveted spot in a prestigious charter school after his number (42) is chosen during a lottery.
Miles Morales Spiderman
Miles Morales Spiderman

 

11 thoughts on “Significant Number Factoid Friday – Today Number Forty-Two 42

  1. Cheers on the tribute … especially it seems you expanded toward my model. 😉 On a personal note, US RT 42 diagonally crosses my state … from my current area to where my wife spent most of her childhood … and we were married in a church on Rt 42. Well done!

  2. Well, dang, ya got both Doug Adams (a given, granted) and the MG-42, so let’s see what I can dig up.
    BB-42 was the USS Idaho, named after (oddly) the 43rd state. (So much for the Navy’s sense of humour.)
    CV-42 was the USS Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the first carrier named after a US statesman.
    CL-42 was the USS Savannah, a light cruiser that was one of the first warships to be hit (but survive) the world’s first guided weapon, the German Fritz-X bomb.
    And of course, 1942 saw numerous crucial turnaround battles including the naval Battle Of Midway and the conclusion of the Battle Of Stalingrad. It also saw the only invasion of mainland American territory by the Japanese. (Attu and Kiska Islands in the Aleutian chain.)
    That should do ya fer a while! 😉

  3. Douglas Adams may have alluded to the “Rule 42 of the Code” and to the Baker’s “forty-two boxes” (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonnetmaker/4635176500/) in Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark” (1876, http://www.snrk.de/snarkhunt/?newpics=no). My assumption is that Carroll (Rev. Dodgson) may have picked 42 as an allusion too, in this case to Thomas Cranmer (who got “baked” in the end) and his Forty-Two Articles. Carroll/Dodgson did not subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles.

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