'Mathematicians, Geeks' Celebrate A Rare Palindrome Day

In early 2020, the world's math enthusiasts rejoiced. As AP News tells us, this particular year features one particular date that gives "mathematicians and geeks" chills. We're talking, of course, about 02/02/2020, a date that gave us events such as the Super Bowl and the Groundhog Day. However, clearly more importantly, its eight digits double as a palindrome — a sequence that reads exactly the same forwards as it does backwards. 

Many mathematicians and palindrome enthusiasts celebrated the day on Twitter, and pointed out just how rare and cool it is. "It's possible to live your entire life without ever having gone through a universal palindrome, so it's pretty cool to have one in your lifetime," said Heather Pierce of Boston's Emmanuel College. Even celebrities got in on the action, as famous folks like Mark Hamill and "Weird Al" Yankovic tipped their hat to the palindrome day. 

Madam, In Eden I'm Adam

So, what's the big deal about this palindrome day? Turns out, pretty much everything ... if you like numbers, that is. Or palindromes. The thing to remember here is that the United States tends to write dates as "Month/Day/Year," but several other countries opt for the "Day/Month/Year" approach instead. As you can probably guess, it's incredibly rare for a date to read as a perfect, eight-digit palindrome regardless of which method you use to write it down, and such dates are known as "universal palindromes." 02/02/2020 hits this particular spot, and is the first date to do so in over 900 years. The last universal palindrome date was 11/11/1111, and we're going to hazard a guess that people weren't exactly baking cakes to commemorate the event, what with being busy dealing with the Middle Ages and everything.

Don't worry, though. If you missed 02/02/2020, your great-great-great-great-grandchildren won't have to wait another nine centuries for the next universal palindrome date to saunter along. In fact, we're due for the next one in just under 102 years, on 12/12/2121.