Walt's Writings

Reading between the numbers


At the beginning of April, my dear friends Marianne and George sent me messages within an hour of each other to let me know of a special event. We were all a bit amused at how it was explained in the message that one of them forwarded: 

"On Wednesday, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06. That won't ever happen again." 

My first thought was to stay up and experience the moment: three seconds past two minutes past one on the fifth day of the fourth month of 2006. While I waited I kept expanding the possible answers to the statement that this won't ever happen again. 

First of all, and just in case you missed the April event, this will happen again in May. Those of us who live in Europe write the date in what we think of as a more sensible way, so we will observe 01:02:03 04/05/06 on the fourth day of May. 

Second, because the century numbers are irrelevant (and in fact would mess up the flow), this actually happens every hundred years. 

Third, because I was working in Italy on that day, I realised that the event was occurring an hour after it happend at home in Scotland. So my assumption was that it would happen 23 times in one day. But I have now checked that wonderful source of wisdom, Wikipedia, and discover that there are at least 39 different time zones in the world. 

So there we are. This apparent singularity happened multiple times on that day, will happen again in May, has happened many times before, and will happen again in each century to come. I am here right now—and the space and time around me are infinite. Wonderful!