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Palindromes

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Palindromes are fascinating beasts. Imagine running a race on a cross-country course. Immediately after the start, you passed through a forest, then a desert where a giraffe cheered you on, and ended on a beach by the ocean. At what you thought was the finish line, the race director said you had to turn around and run back the way you came to complete the race. So you ran the course backwards and saw first the exact same forest, then the giraffe in the desert, and finished at the beach. Puzzled, you turned around and looked back. The beach was gone and the forest beckoned.

That's what makes palindromes magical. Read it through normally, left to right, and it makes sense. Then flip it around in reverse, and read the exact same thing. As if that wasn't crazy enough, our genes contain palindromes, over ten million of them!

A palindrome can be simple, wearing its symmetry proudly like a Mardis Gras costume. Another might be subtle and deceptive, appearing as an ordinary sentence, only to reveal its mirror nature with a flourish. Every palindrome is a spider walking across a mirror, existing on the invisible boundary between reality and wonderland. The spider palindrome lives on each side simultaneously, like Alice in her looking glass worlds.

From 79 AD, in Pompeii, comes the Sator Square, the earliest documented palindrome. Remarkably, this construction of five five-letter Latin words is also a two-dimensional palindrome. Latin scholars have found many other palindromes. It seems people have enjoyed word play for about two thousand years or more.

Palindromes are fun to read, but devilishly hard to write. I tried for years and never got past two-word palindromes. That's where my Palindromedary comes in.

Palindromes List

When I decided to solicit new palindromes from visitors, I knew I wanted to test each submission for originality. Even for independent efforts, I saw no point in duplicating entries. The only way to determine originality is to have a list of known palindromes.

To that end, I did a relatively thorough online search. The result is a collection in the database of every unique palindrome I found. Because many of the source sites are copyrighted, I do not publish this list on palindromedary.us. Someday I might contact the sources for permission. For now, I only use the collection to determine if a submitted palindrome is unique. However, just because my online checker says a palindrome is unique does not mean it truly is. My list is not comprehensive.

As for palindromes created by Palindrome Composer users, I do publish those on palindromedary.us. Per the Terms agreement, if you submit a palindrome, you retain ownership rights and grant Big Leaf, LLC the rights to publish the palindrome and other submitted information in any way. One such way is to list each original palindrome on a public page of the palindromedary.us website. That lets everyone enjoy your creative work and know who created it.

I also plan to publish an anthology of all the palindromes composed each year. Such books were once quite popular, and I suspect they will again be in demand as the number of new palindromes surges. I must be able to contact you before publishing your work, so be sure to keep your contact information up to date on palindromedary.us.

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