Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Spooky digital clocks

These days it seems that every time I look at a digital clock it's either 4:44, 22:22 or some other time where the digits are all identical.

I don't mean every single time of course - that would be seriously creepy. No, I mean like once a day. Certainly more often than you'd expect.

Let's do the sums:

In the case of a 12-hour clock the number of distinct time displays is 12 times 60 - or 720. Of these, the ones with identical digits are 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55 and 11:11. So in a 12 hour period you expect to see one of these 6 single-digit patterns 6 times for every 720 looks at the clock (or 1 in 120). For a 24-hour clock, we can add 0:00 and 22:22 but the other numbers only come up once, so we have 8 cases out of 1440 (or 1 in 180).

In either case it means that to see one or more of these patterns every day suggests that I look at the clock more than 120 times in a 24 hour period. Not counting the time I am asleep that works out about once every 8 minutes.

Surely I can't be doing that!

Perhaps you'll understand now why I find it all a bit spooky.

In fact it has given me a really good idea for a low-budget horror movie:

Scene 1: Man rolls over in bed. Sleepily notes the time (2:22) on bedside clock.
Scene 2: Alarm clock rings (5:55) on the display. Daylight filters through the curtains. Radio announces tragic motorway accident.
Scene 3: Man driving through city, stuck in slow-moving traffic. Clock on car radio shows 3:33. Suddenly a panic-stricken man claws frantically at the car door - face pressed to the glass etc.
Scene 4: Man driving along motorway, lost in thought. Clock says 4:44. He doesn't seem to notice.
Scene 5: Motorway. Man peers through windscreen. Strange lights ahead. Clock says 6:66 !!! Cue Psycho music. Man's mouth formed into silent scream. Screeching of car brakes, rending of tortured metal.

Cut to credits against background of flashing blue lights etc etc.

If you've read this far, it's probably too late; you're going to start waking up and noticing it's 4:44. Aaagghhh !



  1. Maybe you're in a Tarantino flm.. quoting the IMDB on Pulp Fiction

    There is a persistent myth that that all the clocks in the movie are set to 4:20 (although, certainly all the clocks on the wall in the pawn shop are set to 4:20). However, in at least two scenes it is obvious that this is not the case. In the "Bonnie Situation" while Jimmy, Vince and Jules are drinking coffee in the kitchen, the clock clearly reads 8:15. Secondly, when Vince and Jules go to retrieve the briefcase, it is "7:22 in the a.m.". The significance of the time 4:20 is that it is slang for smoking marijuana.

  2. Do you know the Rufus Wainwright song 11:11? as in 'woke up this morning, it was 11:11'
    often seems to be that time on the digital clock....
    Sue Smee