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Google’s Douglas Adams doodle


Today would have been Douglas Adams’ 61st birthday, had he not died in 2001 at the age of 49. So says Google’s doodle, anyway. God forbid that Google would put as much effort into a Memorial Day doodle as they did into the Douglas Adams doodle.

Anyway, if you click on the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the tablet sitting on the console in front of the bag and the towel), it plays a series of ten vignettes based on stories from the book.

  1. The Babel fish is a telepathic translator which you insert in your ear, feeds on the brainwaves of beings around you, and excretes a translation into your brain of what the beings around you are saying. The Babel fish has caused more and bloodier wars than any other thing in history.
  2. The entry in the Guide regarding the Earth, “Mostly harmless.”
  3. Arthur (the main character) learns to fly by throwing himself at the ground and missing.
  4. Drinking a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, which is rather like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon peel wrapped round a large gold brick.
  5. Using the Starship Heart Of Gold’s Improbability Drive instantaneously transits the ship through all points in the galaxy at once, and also tends to change the passengers into other animals or objects (at some rather large measure of improbability).
  6. The Jatravartians believe that the entire Universe was created by being sneezed out of the nose of the Creator, which they call the Great Green Arkleseizure.
  7. The dolphins were smart enough to leave Earth before it was destroyed by the Vogons. But the Earth was created as a computer to calculate the Question to the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Mice are the hyperintelligent pandimensional beings which commissioned the Earth to be built.
  8. As a galactic hitchhiker, you should always know where your towel is. The Guide demonstrates the many uses for your towel.
  9. The Vogons are the ugly bureaucratic government workers who destroy the Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Their poetry is among the worst in the known Universe.
  10. The mice built Deep Thought, the first computer to attempt to calculate the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything (which turned out to be 42). Deep Thought then designed the Earth as a computer to calculate the Question.

Also, if you click on the door to the left of the console, you see Marvin the Paranoid Android, whose primary job it was to open doors on the Starship Heart of Gold, despite having a brain the size of the Universe. He was terribly depressed. I liked him.

I once attended a lecture by Douglas Adams. I will speak ill of the dead by saying that he was quite possibly the most boring speaker I have ever had the misfortune to hear. Brilliant author, terrible speaker. Of course, at the time I also had the ague from a raging case of chickenpox, which I quite possibly passed on to Adams when I extended a pseudopod to thank him for his horrendous speech (and his autograph). So the fact that I felt horrible and was doing my best not to collapse may have colored my experience of his speech.

Then again, no, I’m fairly certain he was indeed the worst speaker ever, regardless of my physical condition at the time. Oh well, he’s dead. He can’t inflict his monotonous droning on anyone now.

Go buy his books. Most of them are quite good. A few are awful. All of them are memorable.

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