A Boring Day In The Life


by Tim Moran

January 1, 1952: "Singin' in the Rain," with Gene Kelly, was released; Paul "Bear" Bryant, then coaching Kentucky, led the Wildcats to a 20-7 win over TCU in the Cotton Bowl; the first mention of a practical, working "junction transistor" hits page 30 of The New York Times; UPI entered the "news picture field"; and I was born. Maybe not the most interesting day of the century, but a pretty good one, all the same.

So, did you ever wonder what the most boring day of the 20th century was? Nor have I, but computer programmer William Tunstall-Pedoe did, and, like a good software hound, he did something about it (for there is no problem too small or obscure upon which can't be wasted complex algorithms and huge amounts of computing power). Tunstall-Pedoe calculated the most objectively dull day since 1900: And that would be April 11, 1954.

Tunstall-Pedoe created a program called "True Knowledge" to function as a more intelligent way to search the Internet. But as a sideline, True Knowledge was fed some 300 million-odd facts about people, places, and events in the news, and it eventually spit out this Sunday back in '54 as the day on which less of import happened than on any other day since the turn of two centuries ago. Of course, the irony -- or metaphysical conundrum --has been pointed out that, now that it has been identified as the most boring day ever, it is no longer boring but exciting and famous. But we'll leave the implications of that to Tunstall-Pedoe and the philosophers.

Here's a very readable pdf of the front page of the paper for the deadly dull day in question. A perusal of it turns up some pretty interesting stuff (read especially about the death of the dance partners, the cobalt suicide bomb, and the Casablancan official shot dead in his office).