Fascinated with 11/11/11?

Eric Carlson

If you have exams or a big paper due on November 11, 2011, you might think there’s some special significance since the date can also be written 11/11/11.  But is there really? When the calendar and its numbers align, Wake Forest University physics professor Eric Carlson says some people try to ascribe some sort of mystical significance. But they would be wrong.

Carlson has long had an interest in numbers and investigating extraordinary claims like numerology. He takes a skeptical view of the claims that numbers like 11/11/11 have special meaning, calling it unsupported nonsense.

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“Numbers are useful, but there’s no such thing as lucky or unlucky numbers.” Carlson said. “11/11/11 is fun because there is repetition in the date. Our brains are just pattern matching machines so we tend to notice patterns like that.”

Carlson says 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 or Friday the 13th has so much superstition surrounding it,” he said.  “On the other hand, if you get a baker’s dozen (13), you consider it a good deal.”

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

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