If there’s one thing Elon Musk is famous for, it’s thinking big.
His game-changing ideas for reusable rockets and hyperloops, he says, initially grew from his affinity for reading fantasy and science fiction books as a child.
In a recent interview with the Royal Aeronautics Society — a professional institution dedicated to helping the global aerospace community — Musk was asked about his favourite spacecraft from science fiction.
“I’d have to say that would be the one in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ that’s powered by the improbability drive,” Musk said.
Musk first read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” as an early teenager, when he was suffering from an existential crisis in an attempt to determine the meaning of life.
What finally turned things around for Musk was Douglas Adams’ best-selling novel.
In the book, Adams takes a backwards approach to some of mankind’s most perplexing topics, including the meaning of life. Instead of posing the question, he offers the answer to the meaning of life: 42.
“If you can properly phrase the question, then the answer is the easy part,” Musk said in a different interview with Alison van Diggelen from Fresh Dialogues. “So, to the degree that we can better understand the universe, then we can better know what questions to ask.”
And that’s exactly what the characters try to do in Adams’s book: find the question that logically explains the answer, 42.
To succeed, they travel across the universe in a special ship that runs on an infinite improbability drive, which “is a wonderful new method of crossing interstellar distances in a mere nothingth of a second, without all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace,” Adams writes in his book.
“That thing is awesome,” Musk said in the interview with the Royal Aeronautics Society. “It does the most unexpected things.”
Watch the full interview below or on YouTube: