Backwards or forwards, today's a rare day

New Year's Day is a date that receives a lot of attention. But it happens every year.

Today's date is something much rarer.

Jan. 2, 2010 — written numerically as 01-02-2010 — is a "palindrome date," meaning it's the same when read backward and forward.

Most of us learn palindromes as words or phrases: Madam, I'm Adam.

Aziz Inan, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Portland whose hobby is creating math puzzles, said he realized one-third — or 12 of the 36 — palindrome dates in this millennium will occur this century.

The first such special date in the 21st century was Oct. 2, 2001 (10-02-2001). The last one before that was Aug. 31, 1380 (08-31-1380), when people didn't have smart phones or DVRs, much less the luxury to recognize palindrome dates in style.

That's even if they wrote dates in the format of mm-dd-yyyy during the Middle Ages. In Europe today, they write dates dd-mm-yyyy, and the International Standard format is yyyy-mm-dd.

But we're in the United States of America, right? So, go ahead, party like it's Independence Day, or 07-04-1776.

Inan pointed out if you split the date in two, to 704 and 1776, it's interesting to notice 704 = 4 x 4 x 44 and 1776 = 4 x 444.

"It's as if the founding fathers had a secret code to choose that day on purpose, but I know it's not true," he said, adding he plans to publish a recreational math puzzle book before the next palindrome date of Nov. 2, 2011 (11-02-2011).