At the time of the destruction, the Earth was 10 million years old. However, in the series, the guide indicates a scientifically recognized age of 4.5 billion years. Is there a logical explanation for this?

  • 23
    The Magratheans built it so that it looks older than it is.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Mar 27 at 17:58
  • 2
    The Magratheans had read Strata.
    – Buzz
    Commented Mar 28 at 0:22
  • 1
    I think it's the "rule of funny". But I'm not sure I followed it all. Could you explain it again please Professor Dawkins? Commented Mar 28 at 10:06

1 Answer 1


The Earth was built in such a way as to convince the inhabitants that the planet was significantly older.

"That is but the first half of the story Earthman," said the old man. "If you would care to discover what happened seven and a half millions later, on the great day of the Answer, allow me to invite you to my study where you can experience the events yourself on our Sens-O-Tape records. That is unless you would care to take a quick stroll on the surface of New Earth. It's only half completed. I'm afraid-we haven't even finished burying the artificial dinosaur skeletons in the crust yet, then we have the Tertiary and Quarternary Periods of the Cenozoic Era to lay down, and…"

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Chapter 26

The compilers of the titular Guide were apparently also taken in by this fairly simple ruse. Ford's latest update (from "Harmless" to "Mostly Harmless") evidently did not encapsulate the full deviousness of this Magrathean scheme.

  • Re, "The compilers of the titular Guide were apparently also taken in by this fairly simple ruse." If Douglas Adams had written the story just a few decades later, he'd have said that The Hitchhiker's Guide was crowd sourced. The compilers of the guide were tourists. They were people like Ford Prefect. Why should random tourists be able to tell the difference between a natural planet, and one that was crafted by the galaxy's premier planet constructors? Commented Mar 30 at 18:03
  • @SolomonSlow - It's not really clear that the compilers read his report. They evidently skimmed it but it's possible that Ford left out the part about Magrathea or that the fact that the Earth was constructed rather than evolving naturally simply isn't that interesting on a galactic scale. We'll never know.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 30 at 18:07

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