Thursday, November 10, 2011

Apophenia and remembrance

click photo to enlarge
Tomorrow is the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 2011. Some people seem to be making a lot of that even though repetitious dates are reasonably common. Yes, the date is palindromic, but then quite a few years have visual, numerical and other oddities associated with them. The first such occurrence I recall was 1961. Why? Well, if you look at it upside down it still reads the same. I know this because I remember that anomaly being made much of on the cover of a "Dandy" comic (or was it "Beano") in - you've guessed it - 1961.

The press have been making quite a bit of the coming date. I've seen it described as the "corduroy" date (vertical lines!). Yuri Geller - remember him and his spoon bending - has been quoted as saying "11.11 is the pre-encoded trigger and the key to the mysteries of the universe and beyond." Who'd have thought it! The numerical coincidence of the date is, for reasons that completely escape me, felt to be reason enough for choosing it as an auspicious date on which to get married. Apparently the small Scottish town of Gretna Green near the border with England will host over fifty weddings on that day. This compares with fewer than a dozen on any other Friday in November. Seeing meaningful patterns in random numbers or data is known as apophenia, and 11.11.11 certainly seems to have brought the apopheniacs out in force.

For much of the rest of the population the date is merely an interesting coincidence that in no way overshadows the fact that it is Armistice Day - the day that commemorates the end of the first world war. And it's with that in mind that I post today's photograph. It shows part of the memorial in Sutterton church, Lincolnshire, that records the men of the parish who died in what came to be called The Great War. This simple plaque, lovingly cared for down the years, caught my eye because overlaying the list of names were the colours of the nearby British Legion flag that was reflected on its surface.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 88mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/60
ISO: 3200
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On