Denny Hamlin (in the number 11 car) is my favorite NASCAR driver, so I look forward to seeing the numbers 1-11. A lot of people, though, are bothered by that series of ones. It seems that the number eleven is the new UFO. Thousands of people are noticing 1:11 or 11:11 on their digital clocks and in all sorts of other places, too. It isn’t that these people are deliberately looking at the time; rather, many of them report being drawn to notice elevens all around them. This happens so often and to so many people that websites, books, and online communities have been created to help people figure out what the elevens are trying to convey.
11:11 - The Time Prompt Phenomenon covers the possibilities from ‘chunking’ (the brain’s tendency to put like items together in order to remember more) to guardian angels trying to pass along messages of reassurance and encouragement. Since no one has a definitive explanation, the authors wisely include a brief description of theories from various sources without attempting to nail down the significance of 11:11.
That’s just one chapter, though, so if 11:11 isn’t calling your name, don’t worry – there’s a lot more to this surprisingly entertaining book about numbers. If you’re not a math major, you’ve probably given very little thought to the history, symbolism, and power of numbers. Turns out, they’re useful for a lot more than getting us to work on time, and Jones and Flaxman can prove it.
With a quick overview of cultures and their numbers for foundation, 11:11 - The Time Prompt Phenomenon explains just as much as the average person needs or wants to know about base-2, base-8, and base-10 systems, or the importance of zero. In addition, they give quick, easy-to-remember definitions for things like imaginary, superreal and mythical numbers. This is the sort of thing you can drop into conversation with your liberal arts friends to impress the dickens out of them.
With just the right blend of respect and humor, Jones and Flaxman explain the symbolism, superstitions, and sacred uses for numbers. They tackle unlucky 13 by pointing out that, in many cultures, 13 is actually quite a nice number. “It is the number of the 13 Attributes of Mercy of God in the Torah… the number of the original colonies that the United States was founded upon…” and was used repeatedly throughout the Bible and even on the U.S. one dollar bill.
From Fibonacci sequences to cosmic codes, from 666 to pi, 11:11 - The Time Prompt Phenomenon has it covered. Perhaps it’s the connection to more arts-friendly pursuits such as synchronicity and symbolism that makes this such an interesting book for people like me. It is also, however, clearly written and thoroughly researched, moving along at a pace that is exactly right for holding the attention of English majors while convincing those same reads that numbers are fun. Maybe that’s the message of 11:11 - The Time Prompt Phenomenon – it’s a symmetrically pleasing path to the union of left and right brainers!