Palindrome day: No turning this day around

No, it's not about Sarah Palin – although we try – but something for numbers nerds: those rare dates that read the same backward and forward.

Bryan Oller/The Gazette/AP
No, this is not a palindrome, although political wags have tried. It's the former governor of Alaska at a recent book signing in Colorado Springs, Colo.,

Don’t even try (actually, go ahead) – you won’t be able to turn this day around.

That’s because it’s only the second palindrome day of the 21st century, meaning that if you flip the day over it reads the same: 01/02/2010. (And, no, this is not another story about Sarah Palin, though it could be since “Harass Sarah” is sort of a cool palindrome; or how about “star comedy by Democrats”? Okay, an illustration here.

The word palindrome is from the Greek palindromos, derived from "palin," meaning “again,” combined with "drom," meaning “run” – so, literally, running back again.

Palindrome days, at least in the long run, are rarer than visits by Halley’s Comet, which swings by the green planet once every 75 or 76 years. Yes, the last palindrome date wasn't that long ago, on Oct 2, 2001 – 10-02-2001, but the one before that came a full 620 years earlier, on Aug. 31, 1380, in the year Charles VI, the French king, declared no taxes forever. (Again with the Sarah Palin references.)

The next palindrome day, which will be the third out of 12 in the 21st century, will be on 11-02-2011. The 36th and last palindrome date of this millennium will occur on Sept. 22, 2290. The next one after that will be Oct. 3, 3001. A bit spooky to think of, that.

“Palindrome dates are notably rare. They only occur in the first few centuries of a millennium,” Aziz Inan, an electrical engineer at the University of Portland, told the Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Washington.

Since most of the rest of the world puts the day at beginning of their numerical date (so, 02/01/2010), they won't be sharing this palindrome day. But no worries. Those countries will get 60 palindrome days this millennium.


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