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To fight world panic, Google doodles Douglas Adams

The author of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and three episodes of "Dr. Who" would have been 61 years old today.

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I know several people who believe that Douglas Adams left a zero off the end of his answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

The man who gave meaning to 42 would have been 61 today, had he not died of a heart attack aged 49.

Google's fine and whimsical doodlers decided to commemorate his birthday with a doodle that whispers to the world: "Don't Panic."

In his 49 years, Adams certainly had a life. He not only wrote books, among them the very famous "The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy" (which started as a radio series), but he also penned three episodes of "Dr. Who."

On his 42nd birthday, he performed with Pink Floyd. Not many people can say they did that. (Audio evidence below.)

He worked with Graham Chapman of Monty Python and is said to have contributed to some of the group's sketches.

Naturally, there are as many myths about Adams as there are true stories. Did he really have the idea for writing "Hitchhiker's" while lying in a field, as he told David Letterman in 1985?

The doodle is a loving and interactive tribute. Among the surprises when you click is Marvin The Paranoid Android.

Author Neil Gaiman told The Washington Post: "Douglas Adams was a genius. He was a profound and brilliant British humorist who was also a very reluctant novelist."

Gaiman explained: "Douglas wrote a radio series that then became a huge and enormously successful novel, so he found himself stuck as an incredibly reluctant novelist who would have to be locked in a room by his publisher to finish a book."

Gaiman believes that the true message of "Don't Panic" is that we shouldn't.

Perhaps we shouldn't because nothing really makes too much sense. How can it when so many good die young, so many dictators live to see their 80s, so many camels smell strangely, and so many people spend their days online shopping?