I'm listening to the radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and earlier it was mentioned that a girl on Earth discovered something that will make everything alright, and before she could tell anyone over the telephone about it, the Earth blew up.

Later, Deep Thought mentions that Earth's purpose to find an answer was going to get answered in 5 minutes if it wasn't blown by the Vogons.

Is this referring to the girl's discovery?

  • 8
    A note to the answerers: Douglas Adams deliberately made the radio series, the novels, the TV series and the movie different but similar stories. So later novels does not necessarily answer questions about the radio series (indeed some parts are contradictory) just as the movie does not necessarily answer questions about the book (remember, Douglas Adams also wrote the screenplay for the movie)
    – slebetman
    Jul 17, 2014 at 19:11

4 Answers 4


Yes. This is made explicit in the fourth book, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish.

The girl is Fenchurch, whom Arthur meets when he returns to the restored Earth. She remembers everything building up inside her over a course of days, until it came to a head when she was sitting in a cafe in Rickmansworth. But she no longer remembers what the answer actually was.

  • 5
    It's called out in the Wiki article, "As they talk they find more circumstances connecting them. Fenchurch reveals that, moments before her hallucinations, she had an epiphany while sitting in a café about how to make everything right, but then blacked out." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/So_Long,_and_Thanks_for_All_the_Fish
    – joshbirk
    Jul 17, 2014 at 20:01

It is hard to tell, since the following books make the issue way more twisted.

From the POV of the first book alone I would say yes, that what the girl thought was the answer.

But in the following books you learn that:

1 If the girl was right, given the nature of the question and the answer, if the Vogons had not destroyed Earth probably something else would have caused the answer to not be delivered (although one can argue that, since the girl probably did not know the question, there were options for the universe as we know it surviving some time more).
2 A long time ago, all of the experiment was wrecked by the unexpected arrival of the Golgofrinchans. Of course, there is still the possibility that some Golgofrinchan found the answer by pure luck.


You ask about the original radio series, not the books, and the answer is yes.

The second radio series (Episode 12) it is revealed that Zaphod Beeblebrox for planning Earth's destruction in order to avoid the ultimate question becoming known. At the time of the destruction, the disruptive effect of the Golgafrinchan B-ark was not known.

Incidentally, it is Slartybartfast who refers to the Vogon destruction of Earth as a "shocking cock up", not Deep Thought.

  • 2
    In the radio series it's the Ruler of the Universe, not Zaphod IV, who makes the revelation (in passing, without realising the significance) about Zaphod I ordering the destruction because he is in financial collusion with the psychiatrist consortium. Jul 17, 2014 at 19:43

There are five series of the original radio show. So far as the radio show is concerned, the answer to your question is no.

Deep Thought does mention that Earth's computer program, to find the answer to the ultimate question, was terminated 5 minutes too soon (five minutes before the moment of read-out) due to the destruction of Earth by the Vogons. But this has nothing to do with the girl's discovery.

According to radio series one, the girl (later, in series 3, she is identified as Fenchurch, and becomes Arthur's girlfriend) has only realised how the Earth can be made a good and happier place; she has not discovered anything relating to the computer program, nor about the ultimate answer.

... then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

In fact, she never tells anyone her solution, not even Arthur. So we never get to know why she got so excited.

And in Fit the Sixth we learn that the computer program got cocked-up by the arrival on Earth, in its prehistoric dawn, of the Golgafrinchams on their B-Ark -- causing the original cavemen to die out, who were a key part of the computer program that was designed to find the answer to the ultimate question (of life, the universe, and everything).

Bit of a waste of time for the Vogons, blowing the planet apart, when the computer program had in fact been wrecked 2 million years earlier.

  • Given that we don't know what her discovery was, how can we know that it isn't related to the ultimate question? (The fact that she came up with a solution not a question means that she wasn't at the final stage, but her solution may have prompted the production of the question itself). Or that the Golgafrinchans didn't become integrated into the program as a replacement for the cavemen who died out? We do know that the program wasn't simply left by itself to run its course ... the mice were there to oversee it, and could potentially have corrected for any such issues.
    – Jules
    Apr 30, 2018 at 18:27
  • @Jules: It is stated explicitly in episode 1 that the girl has only realised how the Earth can be made a good and happy place. It is also stated explicitly there that the Earth was destroyed before the computer program had been completed. And in the 3rd and 4th radio series, when the ultimate question comes up she never claims to have the answer. Hence, the girl has not discovered the ultimate answer.
    – Ed999
    May 2, 2018 at 8:39
  • @Jules: The Prefect being states expressly, in episode 6 of series 1, that the fact of the cavemen dying out has cocked-up the computer program. Furthermore, when Arthur discovers the ultimate question in that episode, we realise that the program is cocked-up. Additionally, it is difficult to see how the discovery that 6 multiplied by 9 equals 42 makes the world a good and happy place. That does not fit, remotely, the statement by Peter Jones in episode 1 that this time it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.
    – Ed999
    May 2, 2018 at 8:54
  • While these things are true, all of these characters have limited knowledge and are basically making assumptions. Now, we don't know how Arthur managed to randomly produce a question that is at least vaguely sensibly answered by "42", and the notion that it is in fact the ultimate question is a good theory, but I don't believe it is in any way confirmed to actually be correct, either in the radio or TV series or in any of the novels. Perhaps as a final generation inhabitant of Earth Arthur's subconscious knows a candidate question, but in the end a different one would be chosen.
    – Jules
    May 2, 2018 at 15:40
  • In the original radio series, in 1978, at the very end of the final episode, Fit the Sixth, Ford and Arthur have a conversation that was, at the time, intended to resolve the entire storyline (this being intended to be the last ever episode), in which Arthur learns that his mind holds the ultimate question, but that the question makes no sense: Six by nine, 42? I always said there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe. The joke, of course, being that 6 times 9 does not equal 42. It was the definitive question, but it does not fit the statement by Peter Jones in episode 1.
    – Ed999
    May 15, 2018 at 23:07

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