So what exactly’s gonna happen on December 21, 2012?
Haven’t you heard? THE WORLD’S GOING TO END.
Stop reading this and go buy batteries, for crying out loud!
Seriously, this kit needs some batteries. And Mad Libs.
Only kidding, folks. It’s just the end of a super-long Mayan calendar cycle. Well, actually it’s a cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Calendar, but this is widely associated with the Mayan civilization.
See, the Mayans believed that the gods had created three worlds before ours, but they’d all failed. The fourth one was a success, presumably related to the fact that the Mayans were in it. According to a commonly accepted conversion from the Mayan calendar to our Gregorian calendar, this fourth world, or cycle, began August 11, 3114 BC, and lasts 13 b’ak’tuns (a unit of time), and we’re coming up on the end of it this month.
December 21, as a matter of fact.
The pessimists will tell you this marks the literal end of all creation, the apocalypse. But I’m pretty sure they’re the same folks who bought cave real estate in 1999. The rest of us woke up on time and went to work the morning Y2K rolled around, just like we will on December 22 this year. In the same way your house doesn’t explode when you flip over your last calendar page of the year or decade or century (despite how much fun that would be), it’s likely that our planet will keep on existing at the end of this Mayan calendar cycle.
A map of the 13 b’ak’tun cycle that’s about to end. (Click for larger version.)
It makes sense to assume that since the Mayans believed in cycles previous to this one, they also believed that another cycle would begin after this one is through.
Ask an optimist (or a Mayan scholar), and they’ll tell you the more likely story: the end of a cycle would be a time of great celebration for the Mayans. After all, 13 b’ak’tuns is a long time – probably somewhat comparable to the amount of time you would wait in line at the DMV on an average day. Getting to the end of that calls for a major party.
What luck to be alive for it!
Yeah, but just in case the world does end, how will it happen?
All the theories I’ve seen involve astronomical anomalies which, were they actually impending, would probably have been on the NASA radar for quite some time now.
Of course, there is the possibility that it’s not on NASA’s radar because it’s sneaking up on us from behind.
That’s silly, though. There’s probably just a massive government cover-up.
But I know you like to be prepared, so here’s a smattering of doomsday predictions the government doesn’t want you to know about but the discerning users of the world wide web have been diligent enough to sniff out (ahem, completely fabricate) and publicize.
Thanks to the movie 2012, we know exactly what it’ll look like when…well, when whatever is going to happen happens.
- Planet X, or Nibiru, may be heading our way and collide with us. Or some other rogue planet. Or a big asteroid. Basically, something huge might hit us. (You can thank self-declared psychic Nancy Leider for the Nibiru thing, although she originally predicted it for May 2003. She had to change it to December 2012 when June 2003 arrived as usual.)
- Sudden and intense solar storms could burn us to a crispy little ball of ash.
- The north and south poles could reverse (in an instant!). I’m not quite sure how this is supposed to happen in one day or specifically how it would destroy the world (especially since it’s happened before and we’re still here); but it’s clear that it would not be a positive development.
- We could get caught in a gravitational tug-of-war between the sun and a black hole called Sagittarius A.
There are more various and disastrous galactic alignments that might spell our doom, but the ones above are the most commonly expressed online, and therefore the most likely.
Pardon me, but you’ve said nothing so far about Nostradamus…?
To be honest, I think you might be a little disappointed if I tell you about this guy.
Nosty’s old MySpace profile picture (see emo pout)
No, you still want to hear?
Okay then, Nostradamus (or Nosty, as I like to call him, because it sounds like “nasty” with a British accent and that’s funny) was a prophet way back in the 16th century. He made, like, a zillion prophecies, mostly because he lost his wife and kids to the plague and didn’t know what else to do with himself. (After all, when you’re trying to make a living as a healer, which he was, and then your whole family succumbs to the bubonic plague, which they did…might as well throw yourself headlong onto another career path. Which he did.) Most of his predictions are so vague that they could be adequately applied to a whole slew of events that have happened since. Among the events people claim Nostradamus foresaw are the French Revolution, the rise of Adolf Hitler, the assassination of JFK, and the September 11 bombings.
But did he prophesy the end of the world in 2012?
About as much as he prophesied any of those other things. I was going to give you the actual prophecy of his that people are claiming predicts the 2012 armageddon…but I could not, in fact, find any two sources that agreed.
Hey, I warned you this would be a let-down, but you wanted to press on.
To see if you can guess which of Nosty’s prophecies foretold which events, try this quiz. Good luck. http://www.godandscience.org/cgi-bin/quiztest.cgi?nostradamusquiz
In conclusion, I’m really not that worried about the end of the world. I figure the TARDIS will probably arrive just in time to save us all. And if not…well, it’s been fun.
P.S. If you’re still around on December 22nd, be sure to check back in for the third installment of the Celebrity Babe of the Month series.