What’s so special about today? It’s a palindrome

By Emma Stickgold
Globe Correspondent / January 2, 2010

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Thoreau never had one during his lifetime. Neither did George Washington nor Albert Einstein. Today in the United States, which uses the month/day/year format for dates, there is a rare chance to celebrate a palindrome date - 01/02/2010 - which reads the same forward as it does backward.

Jan. 2, 2010, is the second such date out of 36 that occurs this millennium. The first was 10/02/2001.

Aziz Inan, a University of Portland electrical engineering professor, has been studying this phenomenon and speaks with great enthusiasm as he describes the history of palindrome dates.

Before 2001, he excitedly pointed out in an interview yesterday, the most recent was in 1380, since days of the month never exceed 31. The next date comes next year: 11/02/2011.

In much of the rest of the world, today’s date appears as day/month/year, or 02/01/2010. But for inhabitants of these countries, rest assured that there will be plenty of opportunities to celebrate even more than our paltry 36: they will get 60 between 2001 and 3000, Inan says.

“Once you put the day in front of the month, everything changes for the rest of the world,’’ said Inan, who is working on academic papers on the subject.