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There's something backward about this date

01-02-2010 can be read the same way in both directions. One math geek's really got its number.

January 02, 2010|By Sara Olkon

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.

"I can relate to them," Inan said. "Each number has its own personality."

With this adoration in mind, consider today, Jan. 2, 2010. The day is a palindromic date, meaning the number can be read the same way in either direction: 01-02-2010.

There will be 12 palindromic days this century, Inan said, and today is the second. The first was 10-02-2001. (His complete list is here.)

A native of Istanbul, Inan creates math puzzles in his spare time. So 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, switch the vowels and turn one set of consonants 90 degrees, both names are the same.

"I jumped in my chair," he said of the day two years ago when the connection hit him. "My parents had no idea."

Despite Inan's excitement about numbers, he dismisses the notion that mysticism and magic are connected to such dates.

He doesn't, for example, fear Dec. 21, 2012, the date the Mayan "Long Count" calendar marks as the end of a 5,126-year era. Some folks think the date portends a revolution or an apocalypse.

Jan. 2, 2010, and Dec. 21, 2012, he said, just happen to be really cool dates.

solkon@tribune.com

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