Asteroid Named After Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, now has an asteroid to call his own. Asteroid Douglasadams was among the 71 newly named celestial objects announced by the International Astronomical Union this past Tuesday.

(Hoopy frood Douglas Adams)

The IAU's Committee on Small Body Nomenclature has a backlog of unnamed asteroids; MSNBC found one with the provisional designation of 2001 DA42. It is an unremarkable space rock orbiting 224 million miles from the sun between Mars and Jupiter. But 2001 was the year Adams died, his initials are "DA" and 42 has great significance for fans.

According to the novel, Deep Thought, the second greatest computer ever, was built to answer the Ultimate Question. After seven and a half million years, Deep Thought provides the answer - 42.

"Forty-two!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?"

"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."

Adams died of a heart attack at the age of 49 in 2001; his Hitchhiker novels (all five) inspired a TV series; a movie version will be released this coming May. He is famous for having created the babelfish, which the Altavista search engine took as the name for their translation feature.

Read more at MSNBC.

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