If you see extra towels on 25 May, Don’t Panic!

We’ve suspected it for a long time, but now it’s official. The meaning of life, the Universe and everything is to be found at CERN, under construction at the western end of the Meyrin site. When it’s complete, Building 42 may not go so far as providing the answer to the ultimate question, but its denizens will be well equipped to give humankind a steer in the right direction.

A recent Towel Day in Innsbruck (Wikipedia image).

For those Bulletin readers who are not fans of the author Douglas Adams, this may be a little bewildering. Everyone else will recognise the reference to Adam’s sci-fi comedy classic, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. To cut a long story short, 42 is the answer to the ultimate question, as churned out by the largest computer ever built. What remains uncertain is precisely what the ultimate question might be. The fact that CERN’s latest building carries the number 42 has not escaped the attention of people both inside CERN and outside, particularly as we approach the anniversary of Adams’ untimely death in May 2001. In honour of their favourite author, Adams’ fans have declared 25 May International Towel Day – another cryptic reference to ‘The Guide’. So if you see unusually large numbers of people carrying their towels with them on 25 May, Don’t Panic, it’s only about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have! For more on Towel Day, see: http://towelday.org/.

by CERN Bulletin