11/11/11. Great.

To the question making the news circuit today ("Does today's date have any special significance?") I believe an article at Scientific American provides the most compelling answer: no.  Not only does the article brush aside suggestions that this day might have some deeper meaning, but it also spends some time discussing why such numerological curiosities capture our collective imagination to the extent that they do.  If you only read one article about 11/11/11 today (or two, I suppose, since you're already reading this), let it be that one.

If you are a masochist like me, though, there are plenty of ridiculous articles floating around today to help you get your blood boiling.  One of my favorites comes from today's Philadelphia Inquirer.  It's full of gems like:

  • One may be the loneliest number, [La Salle University math teacher Stephen] Andrilli said, but 11 ranks among the most odd - and not just because it isn't even. He sees 11 as sort of a netherworld number - one more than the familiar 10, one less than an even dozen. Uhh, what?  What does any of this even mean?
  • In geometry, Andrilli said, an 11-sided polygon is called an "undecagon" - the shape of the one-dollar coin in Canada, whose people have a particular affinity for 11. Little known-fact: the Canadian people's love for the number eleven has been the subject of intense research among anthropologists for centuries.  Oh wait - no, of course it hasn't.  Because that would be stupid.
  • Weirdly, the sum of 1,111 multiplied by 1,111 is 1,234,321, another numerical palindrome. Do editors no longer know the difference between the words "sum" and "product"?  As written, this sentence also makes no sense.
To its credit, the article does state that all of the listed coincidences involving 11 only show "the human propensity for seeing patterns where none exist." Not all articles may take the day with a healthy grain of salt, though, so make sure not to get caught up in all the 11/11/11 hubbub.  It will be difficult, I know.

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