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Tania Gabrielle in the Abilene Reporter News

Posted by Levine Communications Office on November 14, 2011

11/11/11: Meaningful for some, meaningless to others

Today, three sets of double-ones entice true believers and avowed skeptics alike.

All agree on one thing, at least: 11/11/11 looks pretty cool when it’s written out.

“It is kind of neat that you have all those ones there,” said Andrew Potter, professor and head of the mathematics department at Hardin-Simmons University.

But beyond that, the significance of the bewitching date varies widely.

Some have sought to capitalize on the compelling numerals.

There’s even a direct-to-video horror flick that uses the date as a source of terror.

But beyond such commercial potential, assigning special significance to 11/11/11 is, for many, sheer apophenia — a fairly fancy term used to describe seeing meaningful patterns in meaningless data.

“You can kind of understand why it might be interesting, but I don’t think there’s anything truly mathematical in it,” Potter said.

And depending on which calendar you use, it’s not even 11/11/11.

A collective switch around 1582 to the Gregorian calendar, from the Julian — and earlier, the Roman calendar — systems makes the date what it is.

If we were still using the Julian system, today would be Oct. 29, 2011.

And in the Roman system, “November ought to be the ninth month,” Potter said. It retains its name derived from the Latin “novem,” meaning “nine,” from a time before January and February were added to the calendar.

Perhaps interesting purely to a mathematician is that the number 111111 is divisible by 11, Potter said, with a quotient of 10101.

“That’s about as mathematical as I can get with it,” he said.

Historically, there’s plenty of significance to today, said Gary W. Shanafelt, professor of history at McMurry University.

At least in the 11/11 part.

Shanafelt, along with several others, pointed out that the day marks the 93rd anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.”

“It went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918,” Shanafelt said.

Though of immense significance, the date is one not long remembered, he said.

“November 11 was originally Armistice Day when World War I was the War to End War, but now that we’ve had an even worse Second World War, it’s been changed to Veterans Day,” he said. “That has the virtue of honoring veterans from both world wars, but we tend to let the Second World War overshadow the First.”

Some have chosen to make the day special.

Deb Huntley, of Abilene, who becomes Deb Morotini today, said she and her husband-to-be, Al, picked the memorable date for their wedding shortly after he proposed.

“In the Chinese calendar, it’s supposed to be good luck,” she said. “And my fiancé was joking that it’ll make it a lot easier to remember our anniversary.”

Still others see something genuinely metaphysical in the constellation of 1s.

A search on Google reveals many mentions of the “11:11 phenomenon,” with believers saying that 11s appear to them with uncanny consistency.

To professional numerologist Tania Gabrielle, 11 represents a pair of columns one can walk through and “start fresh.”

“Eleven is itself a compelling number because its’ a double one,” said Gabrielle, who lives in California and counts Oscar and Grammy-winning celebrities among her clientele. “One is the first number that you count, so it means new beginnings, new openings. So when you have a double one, it means double new beginnings — that’s what 11 stands for.”

Therefore, today is a date of potential new beginnings for everyone, magnified by a “triplicate of creative perfection.”

And apparently, today at 11:11:11 (a.m. or p.m.) is particularly auspicious.

“We can literally visualize what we want, and don’t want, from our life and activate it much more quickly than at any other time because of how the sequence is lining up for us,” Gabrielle said.

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