News Column

12-12-12 Was Bound to Happen

Dec. 12, 2012

Peter Mucha

The coming expiration of a Mayan calendar cycle has inspired nonsense about the world's end or starting a new chapter around this month's solstice.

Today -- 12-12-12 -- portends a less iffy kind of phase change, especially as of early afternoon when 12:12:12 12-12-12 occurs (as it did soon after midnight).

Alas, a period with frequent numerologically curious date patterns is coming to an end.

Real world application: Fewer cool dates for wedding planners.

12-12-12 is the last triple date till the first New Year's Day of the next century. (Technically, it won't start in 2100 because there was no year zero.) Every year since 1-1-01 has had a triple. (7-7-7 was especially big for Vegas weddings.)

Oh, there will still be quadruples every 11 years (2-2-22 is next), and yearly doubles (1-3-13), although they are lacking in the symmetry factor. And let's not forget the coming exhilaration of two Pi Days! There's 3-14-15 -- matching the mathematical constant's first five digits -- and 3-14-16, which is closer to its actual value of 3.14159 etc.

But a yearly series of countdowns by ones ended with 12-11-10, and palindrome fans, who had their heyday from 11-1-11 to 11-22-11 last November, will have to settle for the strained likes of 3-1-13 or 02-11-20 until next century.

Ascending strings have only two years left -- 11-12-13 and 12-13-14 -- until 1-2-34. And after next year, you'll have to wait until 1:02 3-4-56 to again include hours and minutes.

Patterns can always be found, of course. It'll just be tougher in years that exceed the number of months.

Counting by odds or evens, for example, suggest the likes of 5:07:09 on 11-13-15.

It's a Friday the 13th, by the way.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2012 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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