Some people are into cars. Some people dig the ocean. Aziz Inan, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Portland in Oregon, loves numbers. Truly, madly, deeply.
“I can relate to them,” Inan said. “Each number has its own personality.”
With this adoration in mind, consider Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010. The day is a palindromic date: 01-02-2010, meaning the number can be read the same way in either direction.
There will be 12 palindromic days this century, he said, and today will be the second. The first was 10-02-2001.
A native of Istanbul, Inan creates math puzzles in his spare time. So, as you might imagine, it was a big day when he looked closely at his own name and saw a pattern. His first and last names are both vowel, consonant, vowel, same consonant – and, if you write the names in all caps and switch the vowels and turn the consonants 90 degrees, both names are the same.
“I jumped in my chair,” he said of that day, two years ago, when the connection hit him. “My parents had no idea.”
Despite Inan’s excitement about this week, don’t look for him at the grocery store, stocking up on canned goods and bottled water. He dismisses the notion that mysticism and magic lie behind such dates. He doesn’t, for example, fear Dec. 21, 2012, the date the Mayan “Long Count” calendar marks the end of a 5,126-year era. Some folks believe the date portends a revolution or an apocalypse.
Jan. 2, 2010, and Dec. 21, 2012, he said, just happen to be really cool dates.