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Friday, May 6, 2011

2012: The End (of what?)

As the "end of the world" approaches, interpreted as December 21, 2012, the number of articles covering the unknown significance of that date have increased, and have inspired me to present some challenges to many theories on the forthcoming event, along with some information for those unfamiliar with the mythology surrounding it.

The common thread of most theories that predict 'Doomsday' in December 2012 is tied to the Mayan Calendar, which follows a "long count" system.  The Long Count calendar identifies a date by counting the number of days from the Mayan creation date (August 11, 3114 BC) and the calendar happens to end after Baktun 13.  A Baktun equals 144,000 days (approximately 5125 years) and Baktun 13 ends on or around December 21, 2012, at which time the calendar will go to the next Baktun, like the odometer turning over on your car.  As proof that the Mayans did not predict Baktun 13 as the end of the world, there are Mayan names for periods of time longer than 13 Baktuns (example: 20 baktuns = 1 piktun).  Furthermore, even if the Mayans did believe that the world would come to an end at the end of the Long Count there is no reason to assume they had any special knowledge which would give them the insight to make such a prediction accurately.

Another popular myth regarding an impending catastrophe comes in the form of Nibiru, a somewhat mythical planet which is said to collide with Earth, causing the type of damage that led to the extinction of dinosaurs.  First of all, if there are any planetary events which could pose a threat to our existence, NASA would be the first source for anything to back that up and here's what they have to say about the 2012 predictions:

"The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012. Then these two fables were linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the Winter Solstice in 2012 -- hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012."

Notice how they say "when nothing happened, the date was moved forward", coincidentally tied to the end of a cycle of the Mayan calendar, which is believed to be the end of all things.  This sounds like a feeble attempt on behalf of whomever made the 2003 prediction to retain credibility by changing the date to align with another date of alleged significance.

Yet another theory for the catastrophic events set to take place comes from Winter Solstice, at which point the Sun is said to align with our galactic plane.  The theory is that the close proximity could reverse the rotation of the Earth which would cause monumental earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.  Each December, the Earth and sun align with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy but that is an annual event of no consequence.

In summary, misinterpretation of the end of a cycle on the ancient Mayan calendar is mostly to blame for widespread belief that life as we know it will cease to exist on December 21, 2012.  Once considering the facts, it is up to everyone out there to decide what they believe, but there is no proof or scientific evidence that the end of our current "world age" and the end of the current cycle of the long count calendar are meant to be interpreted as direct predictions of any catastrophic event.

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