Sunday, August 19, 2012


Welcome to the palindrome Q&A post! I hope you enjoy.

Q: What is a palindrome?

A: A palindrome is a sequence of characters that reads the same backwards as it does forwards. Consider the word "racecar". If you read it front-to-back you get the letters r-a-c-e-c-a-r. If you read it backwards you get the letters r-a-c-e-c-a-r. So, "racecar" is a palindrome because it's the same backwards and forwards. You can make palindromes out of numbers, and those are the ones that you'll see most on my Facebook wall. the sequence "13331" is a palindrome. Get the idea?

Q: Why do you keep posting pictures of odometers on your wall?

A: I post pictures of odometers when they are palindromic, or when they read the same forwards as they do backwards. This is a special event in the life of each odometer and I think that it deserves to be recognized. Depending on how many miles your car has, this may or may not happen all that often. It's a fun nerdy hobby. Some people watch birds. Other people watch odometers. 

Q: Where do you get all of these pictures?

A: I posted my first palindromic odometer picture of June 29th, 2012. By August 19th I had received 27 pictures from friends of their own odometers when they achieved palindromicity (note: that's not actually a word..... yet). People from all walks of life have snagged the pictures and sent them in. So far I have received pictures from Utah, Idaho, California, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Montana, Wyoming, and Maryland. Only 41 states to go! I'm not sure why, but everybody seems to love catching their odometer when its a palindrome. I honestly never expected this to catch on. I've been shocked by the number of people that come up to me in the real world and tell me that they're working hard to find me a palindrome. It's a pretty great feeling. 

Q: Okay, I want to play, how do I help?

A: You can help by taking a picture of your odometer the next time that it is palindromic. It should likely happen somewhere in the next 1100 miles. Snag a picture of it when it is palindromic and send me the photo. The easiest way is to send me a facebook message or an email at cjthatcher, you know, at Attach the photo as well as any additional information you want to include. I can't promise it will be posted super quickly-- I have a backlog and I don't want to spam people by posting more than one a day, but I do promise that it will be posted. 

Q: Taking these pictures while driving sounds pretty dangerous...

A: So, you're right. You should definitely do everything you can to be safe while you take this picture. My favorite method is to drive with a buddy and have them take the picture while you drive like a normal human being. If that is not possible, consider pulling off to the side of the road (you know, uh, safely). As much as I love palindromes, I feel like your life is worth more than a cell-phone-camera-quality picture of a cool string of numbers. Please be safe. 

Q: So, uhh, aren't you worried that no one will ever go on a date with you again because you post about number theory on Facebook every night?

A: Yes.

Q: What if I think this is all sort of stupid, can we still be friends?

A: Absolutely! I have great respect for people who thinks palindromes are stupid. 

Leave me a comment if you have any other questions that I haven't covered yet. Much love~

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