Yahoo! BabelFish

Yahoo! is looking after the BabelFish! Looks like it feels much happier there.

The BabelFish was first described by Douglas Adams in the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy:

The Babel fish is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy recieved not from its own carrier but from those around it, It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. the practical upshot of this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any language. Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes like this : "I refuse to prove that I exist", says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing." "But", says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? it could not have evolved by chance. it proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED." "Oh dear", says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic. "Oh that was easy" says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing. Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.

It is also a project I worked on at AltaVista, from 1997 to 2000. It is there that I met the late Douglas Adams himself, who always had a huge number of great ideas, which he knew how to explain simply and with great humour. I'll always remember those days with fondness!

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