Today we have a golden opportunity to celebrate palindromes: sequences of numbers, letters, or other symbols that have the same meaning or interpretation when read either backwards or forwards. Since today’s date, written as 3-1-13, has the same digits in the same order when read in reverse (see how that works?), the temptation is just too great to let the day pass un-palindromed.
The term “palindrome” comes from the Greek roots palin, meaning “again” and dromos, meaning “direction”. This phenomenon has been around for millennia, with examples in the Torah, Qur’an and even in ancient Sanskrit. According to Fun With Words, the earliest example of a two-dimensional palindrome still survives from ancient Rome (written in Latin, of course) and was carved into a stone tablet outside the city. The phrase, Sator Arepo tenet opera rotas means “the sower Arepo works with the help of a wheel.”
Other examples of palindromes include words and phrases, “kayak”, “race car”, and the question “do geese see god?” (I’m betting that they don’t, or they wouldn’t shit everywhere so indiscriminately. That seems more a result of madness from seeing Cthulhu, rather than their creator.)
So today let’s celebrate palindromes. Maybe look up a few, make one of your own, do some palindromic math (like 38+83…121!) or perhaps search the zeitgeist for palindromic tropes and memes. My personal favorite lies in Dan Slott’s Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, wherein the Joker proposes to Two-Face that they the kill residents of Gotham City whose palindromic names can be found in the phone book (poor, poor Nora Baron)…I know what I’ll be rereading this evening!
Happy March 1st, 2013, everyone.