Ultimate Answer Theme of This Year's Phil Fest

Today is the First Friday in Phil Fest.

For those without proper calendars, Phil Fest begins this Friday, November 5th

and culminates this year on Sunday, November 14th.

I am delighted to announce that the theme of this year's Phil Fest is:

The Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything.

To understand why this theme was selected, please take a few moments to read and contemplate the following passage:

Extracted from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,

by Douglas Adams.

"O people waiting in the Shadow of Deep Thought!" he

cried out. "Honoured Descendants of Vroomfondel and

Majikthise, the Greatest and Most Truly Interesting

Pundits the Universe has ever known ... The Time of

Waiting is over!"

Wild cheers broke out amongst the crowd. Flags,

streamers and wolf whistles sailed through the air.

The narrower streets looked rather like centipedes

rolled over on their backs and frantically waving

their legs in the air.

"Seven and a half million years our race has waited

for this Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day!" cried

the cheerleader. "The Day of the Answer!"

Hurrahs burst from the ecstatic crowd.

"Never again," cried the man, "never again will we

wake up in the morning and think Who am I? What is my

purpose in life? Does it really, cosmically speaking,

matter if I don't get up and go to work? For today we

will finally learn once and for all the plain and

simple answer to all these nagging little problems of

Life, the Universe and Everything!"

Two severely dressed men sat respectfully before the

terminal and waited.

"The time is nearly upon us," said one.

"Seventy-five thousand generations ago, our ancestors

set this program in motion," the second man said, "and

in all that time we will be the first to hear the

computer speak."

"An awesome prospect, Phouchg," agreed the first man.

"We are the ones who will hear," said Phouchg, "the

answer to the great question of Life...!"

"The Universe...!" said Loonquawl.

"And Everything...!"

"Shhh," said Loonquawl with a slight gesture, "I think

Deep Thought is preparing to speak!"

There was a moment's expectant pause whilst panels

slowly came to life on the front of the console.

Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled

down into a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came

from the communication channel.

"Good morning," said Deep Thought at last.

"Er ... Good morning, O Deep Thought," said Loonquawl

nervously, "do you have ... er, that is..."

"An answer for you?" interrupted Deep Thought

majestically. "Yes. I have."

The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting

had not been in vain.

"There really is one?" breathed Phouchg.

"There really is one," confirmed Deep Thought.

"To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the

Universe and Everything?"


Both of the men had been trained for this moment,

their lives had been a preparation for it, they had

been selected at birth as those who would witness the

answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and

squirming like excited children.

"And you're ready to give it to us?" urged Loonquawl.

"I am."


"Now," said Deep Thought.

They both licked their dry lips.

"Though I don't think," added Deep Thought, "that

you're going to like it."

"Doesn't matter!" said Phouchg. "We must know it!


"Now?" inquired Deep Thought.

"Yes! Now..."

"Alright," said the computer and settled into silence

again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was


"You're really not going to like it," observed Deep


"Tell us!"

"Alright," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great



"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep



"Is." said Deep Thought, and paused.




"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty

and calm.

qv: BBC: The Ultimate Answer

More Phil Fest Updates to follow...

About Phil Yanov

Phil Yanov is a Technologist, Columnist and Public Radio Commentator.

He is the founder of Tech After Five as well as the founder and President of the GSA Technology Council and the IT Leadership Council.

His personal technology column appears in Greenville Business Magazine and the Columbia Business Journal.

He co-hosts the Your Day technology shows heard on NPR radio stations across South Carolina and is a frequent contributor to technology stories appearing on radio and television.