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42 facts about Douglas Adams (+video)

Google's doodle celebrates 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' author Douglas Adams. Here are 42 facts about the humorist, environmentalist, technophile, and all-around hoopy frood who would have turned 61 on Monday.

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9. He wrote that he preferred it to be written as "Hitchhiker's," with an apostrophe but no spaces or hyphens. His orthography was widely ignored by publishers, who often used different treatments for the title in the same edition.

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10. He described himself as a "radical atheist," adding the word "radical," he said, so that people would not ask him if he really meant "agnostic."

11. Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke said that Adams's catchphrase, "Don't Panic" was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity.

12. In response to esoteric theories about why he chose the number 42 as the answer to the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, Adams created the 42 Puzzle, which appears on the cover of the 1994 US edition. The puzzle consists of 42 spheres of various colors, and it is up to the puzzle-solver to find the number of ways that "42" is signified by the spheres.

13. Two weeks after Adams died in 2001, his fans organized an annual holiday to celebrate his life and work. Towel Day is celebrated every May 25.

14. He was good friends with evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who dedicated his 2006 bestseller, "The God Delusion," to the late author, writing that "[s]cience has lost a friend, literature has lost a luminary, the mountain gorilla and the black rhino have lost a gallant defender."

15. He played guitar left handed, performing a few times with The Rock Bottom Remainders, a super-group of authors including Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, and Barbara Kingsolver.

16. He stood at 6'5". As his friend Mr. Dawkins wrote, "He neither apologised for his height, nor flaunted it. It was part of the joke against himself."

17. Co-authored with zoologist Mark Carwardine, the book "Last Chance to See," took Adams and Mr. Carwardine across four continents to report on species that are on the brink of extinction, including the Komodo dragon in Indonesia, the  Northern white rhinoceros in Zaire, and the Yangtze River Dolphin in China. He later said that "Last Chance" was his favorite book.

18. He helped create several computer games, including an interactive text adventure version of the "Hitchhiker's Guide," as well as the games "Bureaucracy," and "Starship Titanic." "Titanic" was adapted into a novel by Monty Python member Terry Jones.

19. In 1983, he and his frequent collaborator, BBC comedy producer John Lloyd, published a fanciful lexicon titled, "The Meaning of Liff," which the authors describe as a "dictionary of things that there aren't any words for yet." Each word is actually the name of a geographic location; for instance, "duluth" (a city in Minnesota) is defined as "the smell of a taxi out of which people have just got."


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