Fact Check: 2012 & The Mayans

Mayan Calendar, 2012

Mayan's and 2012 - 2012 is the end-date of the current (13th) b'ak'tun of the Long Count calendar, used by the Mayan Meso-American civilization. In their creation myth, we live in the fourth "attempt" at creating the world, while the third attempt was dismissed as a failure after its own 13th b'ak'tun. Though Mayan documents contain no such information, popular culture and certain religions predict an apocalyptic event at this date. It is popularly misunderstood that the calendar "ends" on this date, however the Long Count calendar can express dates from approximately 3000BC (their date for the creation of the current world) to approximately 40 octillion years in the future. It is almost impossible to express this date in a mortally comprehensible fashion.

The doomsday theory has sprung from a Western idea, not a Mayan. Mayans insist that the world will not end in 2012. The Mayans had a talent for astronomy, and enthusiasts have found a series of astronomical alignments they say coincide in 2012, including one that happens roughly only once every 25,800 years. Once every 25,800 years, the sun lines up with the center of our Milky Way galaxy on a winter solstice, the sun's lowest point in the horizon. The next time that will happen is on December 21, 2012; which happens to be the same day the Mayan calender expires. In addition to the Mayan calendar, the modern doomsday myth is bolstered several ostensibly scientific reasons for a disaster.

Examples include a pole shift, the "return" of Planet X or the Sun's sinister counterpart Nemesis, a galactic, planetary, or other celestial alignment, global warming, global cooling, a massive solar flare, a new ice age, and so on. None of these have any basis in respected science. For example, the "galactic alignment" between the sun, Earth, and galactic center happens every December. The best alignment was reached in the 1990s and was accompanied by its own set of doomsday theories. Alignments since then have been increasingly poor.

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