One may be the loneliest number, but when it's surrounded by five of its brethren (or 11 if you count hours, minutes and seconds) it looks downright crowded.
11-11-11 may look pretty cool in a cartoony sci-fi movie trailer -- where the date of release is probably more memorable than the title (and the film itself).
But what does 111111 mean to you?
If you're into palindromes, it's sure to put a smile on your face. If you're a fence maker, you're probably wondering what the fuss is about since you see that configuration every day.
If you're a computer or a computer geek, you know that in binary code the tantalizing stretch of 1's translates to the pedestrian number 63.
We tried to find people to whom this date would have special significance. Alas, the closest 1111 11th St. address is in Rockford, but we did find someone in our own backyard (on our own staff, in fact) who has a son turning 11 today.
We found a numerologist who finds energy in today's date, even though he didn't wear No. 11 when he played for the Chicago Bears.
And we found a couple of mathematicians with varying degrees of enthusiasm about the date.
The birthday boy
For as long as he can remember, Damon Becker of Aurora has known Friday would be a special birthday.
School is always out because he shares his birthday with the day that honors our nation's veterans. But today is special, because his 11th birthday falls on 11/11/11.
His pals at St. Rita of Cascia School in Aurora seem impressed, too.
"They're all like, 'Whoa, that's so cool,'" he said.
His mother, Kim Becker, a copy editor at the Daily Herald, said she and her husband, Steve, have been building it up as his "super golden birthday" since Damon was a baby.
"We just thought it was cool, and something he'll always remember," Kim said.
When she was in labor, her husband was already excited about the possibilities.
"He said to me, 'Do you think you could hold out a little longer so he's born at 11:11 a. m.?'" Kim said. "I told him to go away."
Because of the special nature of the day, Damon gets to pick out his birthday dinner. He selected prime rib -- something he's never tried before.
With all of the negative energy in the world, a local numerologist says, the date 11-11-11 will release much-needed positive energy and good vibrations.
"Double digits are called master numbers because they allow more energy to flow," said Philip Clark, who has offices throughout the Chicago suburbs and wore jersey No. 39 for the Bears in 13 games in 1970.
"When we become aware of that, it gives us all we need to master a particular area of our life."
Although the number 1 is all about individuality, a series of double digits acts like a mirror that forces us to reflect.
"We are being asked to get back to ourselves and asked to get back to balance," Clark said. "Although the entire focus is on ourself, there is nothing selfish. It is all about self illumination for the benefit of others."
That will present chances that may not have been evident before.
"If you are open to it, the opportunities will come," Clark said.
Steve Cohen, associate professor of mathematics and chairman of the mathematics and actuarial science department at Roosevelt University, is more into statistical analysis than energy when he considers numbers. He teaches at the Chicago and Schaumburg campuses and has done a course on baseball statistics, among other things.
Among his observations:
• 11-11-11 happens once every 100 years.
• The last time we saw a month, date and year with all ones was 1111 -- or 900 years ago. The next time it'll occur is 11,111, or 9,000 years from now.
• After that, it won't happen until 111,111, or 100,000 years later.
Ed Packel, a professor of mathematics at Lake Forest College, is rather blasť about the whole thing.
"I don't know anyone in the mathematics community who is getting all excited about this," he said. "Some people think 11 is a lucky number, especially if you shoot craps, but there's no deeper significance."
• Staff writers Elisabeth Mistretta, Mick Zawislak and Larissa Chinwah contributed to this report.