The Strange Significance of Digits

February 23rd, 2006 by Potato

While a post title like that should rightly be conserved for a nice, long discussion/tutorial on significant figures in science, I will instead put up a very short “how about that” post.

Have you ever noticed particular sequences of numbers perhaps more frequently than coincidence might call for? For example, “Yoshibai” has told me on more than one occasion how freaky it is that he always catches himself checking the time at 11:11. I do the same thing, except for me, it’s 12:34 and 4:16 (the first one should be obvious why it sticks out in my mind; the second is a number and its square, though I don’t seem to have the same propensity for 5:25, 6:36, or 7:49). There are many days when I’ll catch two 12:34’s, and a few where I’ll get two 4:16 watch checks as well.

It’s possible that there is no cosmic co-inky-dink, and that we really do check our watches more-or-less randomly, and it’s only the pre-existing significance of those numbers that make us notice the times when we do catch them.

I get into this because, of course, I started watching the TV show Lost, and some of the characters have a fascination with a particular string of numbers. It’s actually a very good show. I really liked the way the engine was sputtering after the crash in the pilot. The “monster” also has some cool sound effects (hey, spoilers from the trailer are fair game).

Anyway, here’s a link to apophenia.

4 Responses to “The Strange Significance of Digits”

  1. Potato Says:

    Someone asked me over messenger why 12:34 would be significant… think about the combination an idiot would put on his luggage.

  2. rez Says:

    4:16 is my area code. :)

  3. Potato Says:

    You know what, I think that’s why that number actually sticks in my head (and explains 5:25, 6:36, etc), but I just didn’t think of it last night!

  4. Netbug Says:

    So many posts to catch up on!

    For me it’s 01:23 that I always see.