This Friday, at the 11th second and the 11th minute after the 11th hour, the date and time will form a 12-digit palindrome. It will be 11:11:11 on 11/11/11. We have had, since 2000, 10 such sextuplet moments, from one minute past one on 1 January, 2001, to 10:10:10, on 10 October last year. This Friday’s alignment, however, is the only one to consist entirely of a single digit, and – assuming we don’t suddenly switch to a calendar with 22 months – will be the only moment of its kind for 100 years.
For the cynics it’s an inevitable and unremarkable coincidence, if not a wilfully manufactured oddity. After all, the date written in full is actually 11/11/2011. Which is considerably less striking. For the superstitious though, it’s a moment to be cherished; Indian newspapers have reported a sharp spike in wedding bookings for the day, and film-maker Darren Lynn Bousman has used the date as inspiration for 11/11/11, a horror story about a monster that enters our world at 11:11, through the 11th gate of Heaven.
As a ‘bye the way’ – Palindromes date back at least to 79 AD, as the palindromic Latin word square “Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas” (The sower, Arepo, holds works wheels) was found as a graffito at Herculaneum, buried by ash in that year. This palindrome is remarkable for the fact that it also reproduces itself if one forms a word from the first letters, then the second letters and so forth. Hence, it can be arranged into a word square that reads in four different ways: horizontally or vertically from either top left to bottom right or bottom right to top left. – Deskarati