Study Guide

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Science

By Douglas Adams

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In Hitchhiker's Guide, science is mostly about proving how unimportant we are or how wrong we are about the universe around us. In that way, it's basically like science in real life: it makes us constantly revise our theories (like the series of theories about how the Earth is flat, or it's round, or it's a giant computer bought by mice who didn't bother to get the extended warranty), and it makes us feel pretty small. Hitchhiker's Guide also shows us some amazing technology, like the Infinite Improbability Drive, but this tech rarely gets put to the best use. People may invent new technology, but they remain people—which is to say, foolish. Science can't change that.

Questions About Science

  1. What scientific assumptions get disproven in this book? Are there any patterns showing that humans are less smart than we thought?
  2. What technologies are most dangerous in Hitchhiker's Guide? What technology is purely helpful? In general, is tech a good thing in this book?
  3. Are all computers and robots in this book emotional? Are there other examples of technology that operates differently than we would expect it to?
  4. How would Hitchhiker's Guide be different technologically if it were written today?

Chew on This

Science shows us how small and unimportant we are, which is why the scientific viewpoint is the best in Hitchhiker's Guide. No offense, but we really aren't very important.

In an absurd universe, science is just a hobby for these characters who really should try something less dangerous, like painting or quilting.

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