11/11/11: What’s In a Number?

November 10, 2011

November 11, 2011 might hold special significance for some, since the date can also be written 11/11/11. When the calendar and its numbers align, some people try to ascribe mystical significance, according to a Wake Forest University professor.

Eric Carlson, a physics professor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, looks into numerology as a hobby. Here’s his take:

What makes 11/11/11 so interesting?

  • The repetition. Our brains are just pattern matching machines, so we tend to notice patterns like that. If you happen to glance at the clock and it’s 11:11, you will remember that – these patterns stick in our minds. But I don’t think there is any mystical significance to it.

Are numbers lucky?

  • We live in a society that is dominated by numbers, and this digital age gives us PINS, phone numbers, passwords and other numbers to remember, which may make us more interested in numbers as a society.
  • What one person calls a lucky number might be an unlucky number for someone else. Take the number 13 – some people say it’s an unlucky number because 13 was the number of people present at the Last Supper before Jesus’ death. On the other hand, if you get a baker’s dozen (13) you consider it a good deal.

Carlson says that no matter what, 11/11/11 should be a good day for Americans because it is a Friday – hailed by workers, and Veterans’ Day, which gives us the opportunity to thank and remember the troops who have sacrificed to keep the country safe.

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