Interpreting the 2012 Scare
For Some, the End of the Mayan Calendar Spells "Doomsday"
by Hailey Alfred, age 18
The end is near” can be seen painted across posters in many apocalyptic movies such as The Road. You might think that seeing such an announcement in the real world would be a rarity. However, doomsday ideas have a long history and seem to be in constant circulation all around the world.
These ideas have led to a thriving industry with movies, TV shows, books, and websites. In fact, there are more than 175 books listed on Amazon.com dealing with the 2012 doomsday theory alone. It seems that every decade or so, a new theory begins its poisonous, panic-inducing ascendancy.
For example, during the Y2K scare, it was theorized that in the year 2000, life as we know it would be changed forever. Supposedly, all computer systems were programmed to respond to two digit dates (1990 would be 90). Some people believed that when the year turned to 00, computer systems would read this as a negative number, causing the system to shut down. This threat especially worried major industries, including utilities, banking, manufacturing, telecom, and airlines.
Fortunately, the year 2000 came and went with no major meltdown to computer systems. However, this was only a speed bump for doomsday aficionados.
Then came Nibiru, or Planet X. According to the Sumerians, an ancient people of Mesoplatamia civilization, Nibiru is on a direct crash course with Earth. NASA has since squashed this notion. Scientists acknowledged the existence of a Planet X, but clarified that it is not headed for Earth.
If Planet X were on a collision course, astronomers would be tracking it, and the planet would now be visible to the naked eye. NASA also has a Spaceguard program that monitors asteroids and would sound alerts in the case of potential collisions.
In incarnation of this idea, some doomsday enthusiasts see a connection between the end of the Mayan calendar and the proposed date of impact, December 2012.
The Mayan calendar was, and is, based on multiple cycles of time. For example, one katun equals 7,200 days, and 20 katuns equals one baktun. Every 13 baktuns there is a turnover in the cycle. It just so happens that on December 21, 2012, the calendar will hit the 13th baktun mark. Some believe that because their calendar “ends” on this date, the Mayans had predicted doomsday.
However, in all of the Mayan ruins, discovered to date only one even mentions this date. It is obvious to most scientists that the Mayans did not believe that December 21, 2012 held that type of significance. It was not their Armageddon. In fact, one of the Mayan kings, King Pascal, believed that we would all still be around on October 15, 4772 to celebrate the anniversary of his accession.
As David Morrison, NASA Astrobiology Institute senior scientist and author of Ask An Astronomer, states “I note that my desk calendar ends much sooner, on December 31, but I do not interpret this as a prediction of Armageddon. It is just the beginning of a new year.”
Nonetheless, “Doomsday” seniors are a major moneymaker for the entertainment industry. And you can bet they will continue turning out new theories and new thriller stories about the end of the world. This will no doubt keep the public on the edge of their seat, and the scientific community cringing.
[Sources: www.Madison.com; www.NASA.gov; www.Y2Ktimebomb.com]