If you’re a fan of 80s alternative, you’ll know all about Level 42, the funky, highly-produced English band who had hits like this.
Their name refers to the answer to “life, the universe, and everything”–aka The Ultimate Question–as calculated by Deep Thought, a planet-sized supercomputer. Although the answer is “42,” no one knew what the question was. A problem, then.
It turns out, though, that there’s a real “42” problem. Mathematicians had worked out that each number between 1 and 100 could be expressed at the sum of three cubes, i.e. x3+y3+z3=k where K is one of the numbers from 1-100.
The equation had been solved for every number–except 42. But after some distributed computing using 500,000 home PCs all over the world (gee, a planet-sized computer) that chugged on the problem for over a million hours, we now have the answers.
- X = -80538738812075974
- Y = 80435758145817515
- Z = 12602123297335631
That’s it. I’ll leave you alone now. But if you want to get into some wonderfully nerdy math, go here.