Tag Archives: mayan calendar

Doomsday part 6: asteroid strike

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You’ve seen it on the news, so you know it’s true. Your 8 o’clock special news report showcases in a Mayan Apocalypse special a computer simulation of a massive meteor or asteroid impacting Earth causing world doom. There’s no mention anywhere in any Mayan records or myths that the end of the Mayan calendar is associated with an impact from a cosmic body, still the media seems to be obsessed with imagery of asteroid impacts whenever world annihilation is  mentioned. Still would it be possible?

Reality check

Thanks for government and private agencies that monitor bodies on a possible collision course with Earth, for the year of 2012 there aren’t any reported marginally real threats of an asteroid impact. In fact, scientists are capable of predicting threatening orbits with plenty of time in advance, a number of preventive measures can then be taken to avoid any kind of catastrophe  The most threatening asteroid set to come nearby Earth is Apophis in 2036 when it will flyby our planet at a mere 18,300 miles (30,000 kilometers). There’s a  1 in 250,000 possibility the asteroid might hit Earth, even then however the damage would affect a surface roughly the size of Germany, not worldwide.

NASA reports:

The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today NASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. We have already determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs. All this work is done openly with the discoveries posted every day on the NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office website, so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012

 

Read about other popular Mayan doomsday “prophecies” from our debunking series:

Doomsday part 5: Planetary and galactic alignment

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On December 21 the solar system’s planets will align and/or the sun will also align in turn with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, which only happens once every 25,772 years, coincidentally with the end of the 13th Bak’tun in the Maya Long Count calendar (December 21st, 2012). The Maya having a superior astronomical knowledge that surpassed that of today knew that this event will happen and thus set their Long Count calendar to end on this day because the alignment will cause something to happen.

Reality check 

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is like a disk 100,000 light-years across and 1,000 light-years thick. At its center, like in the case of most galaxies, lies a supermassive black hole that tugs all the other stars and satellite galaxies around it. First of all, the sun and the Milky Way’s core can be seen as two geometric points, and as such when connecting the two they will always be aligned, no matter what position the two might be relative from one another. It’s simple common sense. However, if we throw in the Earth into the mix, then a three way alignment of our planet, the sun and Milky Way black hole, is a whole different matter. I won’t go into the details of what consequences might ensue as a result of this alignment (little to any), it’s suffice to say that such a galactic alignment is extremely rare, and by no means will it occur on December 21. The next such alignment will happen in 4 million years.

Regarding an eventual planetary alignment within our solar system, I’ll leave this to NASA:

There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades and even if these alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be negligible. One major alignment occurred in 1962, for example, and two others happened during 1982 and 2000. 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.

Read about other popular Mayan doomsday “prophecies” from our debunking series:

Doomsday part 4: Solar flares

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A solar flare will breach Earth’s magnetic field that typically shelters our planet’s surface from such hazards. The ensuing onslaught would fry all electronic devices in the world and cut power grids. Chaos would ubiquitously surface causing anarchy in a Mad Max type of scenario. New age prophets have for years labeled technology as the devil’s tool, along with money which is today almost exclusively controlled online, and its annihilation would signify humanity’s break from these shackles and the beginning of a new age. Other doomsday scenarios say that once with December 21 a huge solar flare would devastatingly hit Earth with radiation purging all life.

Reality check

Solar flares are indeed hazardous to technology. It’s not unheard of satellites that go offline, sometimes permanently, as a result of being hit by solar flares or coronal mass ejections triggered by the sun. A famous historical event, sure to be mentioned by doomsday promoters, is the 1989 Hydro-Québec’s electricity transmission system as a result of a severe electromagnetic storm. The huge energy fried the grid, and since it was still the Cold War, many people were engulfed in panic. Also at least 30 satellites, some of which were beyond repair.

Our sun works in 11 year cycles. Currently, we’re at the end of the sun’s cycle, with its peak scheduled around 2013 and 2014. Doomsday conspirators take advantage of this close proximity to induce panic by linking it to the end of the Mayan calendar. First of all, while high energy particles indeed hit Earth’s magnetic field, the damage is by no means harmful to humans, so the “radiation” scenario doesn’t apply from the get go.

NASA has reported that the current solar cycle is of average intensity, and shouldn’t be more damaging or harmless than the past cycles the sun went through. Again, the the peak of the solar cycle will occur in 2014, not at the end of 2012.

Read about other popular Mayan doomsday “prophecies” from our debunking series:

Doomsday part 3: The magnetic poles are shifting!

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Something really bad is going to happen, and the Earth’s rotation will shift, rotating the other way, which will cause a magnetic pole reversal, which is going to rain all sorts of havoc on terrestrial life.

As the poles shift, there will be a massive continental drift, with landmasses plunging in towards each other, bringing earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and making all life on the planet all but extinct.

Oh, and even without the earthquakes and volcanoes, the magnetic shift itself will bring an end to the world as we know it.

Reality check!!!

As a geologist, it hurts my brain to write things like this, and to see that people actually believe something like this could happen… it’s painful to see how ignorant we are about the very planet we live on.

A shift in Earth’s rotation is impossible; unless, that is, a solar system sized galactic panda comes and starts manually spinning our planet the other way. It’s about as likely as that; and even if this did happen, it has absolutely nothing to do with magnetic pole reversal. People advertising this false doomsday use a bait and switch tactic, making senseless correlations.

Geomagnetic reversal, the phenomenon during which the North and South pole switch position is a well known and documented phenomena that has happened for hundreds of times in the Earth’s history, on average at about 400.000 years. The process itself takes a few millenia, and there’s no reason to believe it will happen again any time soon (next few millenia). Furthermore, even if it did happen, there’s absolutely no reason to believe that such a shift would harm life forms.

Read about other popular Mayan doomsday “prophecies” from our debunking series:

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Doomsday part 2: Nibiru (Planet X) is coming

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It’s December 21, 2012. Nibiru, or Planet X as some call it, is going to collide or just barely miss a collision with planet Earth, and the consequences will be devastating.

The idea was first started in 1995 by Nancy Lieder, founder of the website ZetaTalk. She describes herself as a contactee with the ability to receive messages from extra-terrestrials from the Zeta Reticuli star system through an implant in her brain. She claims she was chosen to warn mankind that the object will zoom by Earth in 2003 causing its poles to switch, but, well, that was cancelled, so now the impact is rescheduled for 2012.

Lieder described Planet X as roughly four times the size of the Earth, and said that its closest approach would occur on May 27, 2003, resulting in the Earth’s rotation ceasing for exactly 5.9 terrestrial days. She even went as far as to say that people should put their pets down in anticipation of the event. She also stated that “A dog makes a good meal“.

Reality check!!!

Calling this pseudoscience would be a stretch – it’s just borderline madness. If there somehow was a rogue planet well on its way for Earth, we would see it; every professional and even many amateur astronomers would see it. Even if it were somehow invisible, we would see the effects on other planets in the solar system. Oh, but wait!

People who actually believe this think that astronomers are all working together and keeping it a secret. Seriously, you try to convince the entire scientific community, every space agency, every nation and many amateur astronomers to keep a secret together – that would be something.

Put your pets down“… This woman should be in a facility if you ask me.

Read about other popular Mayan doomsday “prophecies” from our debunking series:

Doomsday part 1: The Maya calendar predicts the end of the world

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Doomsday is upon us, fellow ZME Readers! December 2012, particularly 21 December 2012 marks the conclusion of a b’ak’tun—a time period in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar which was used in Central America, most notably associated with the Maya (even though it was the Olmec people that actually invented it).

In 1966, Michael D. Coe, a man of which few doomsday believers know of, wrote that “there is a suggestion … that Armageddon would overtake the degenerate peoples of the world and all creation on the final day of the 13th [b’ak’tun]“. Translation – only the chosen ones will be saved, and the other ones will be destroyed by Armageddon.

The 5,125-year “Long Count” Mayan calendar is ending. The precise nature of Armageddon isn’t described, but it will be big, bad, and pretty much annihilate civilization as we know it. Many believe several mountains will open up literally and giant space ships will come out from there, picking up only the chosen ones, thus saving them.

Reality check!!!

Most people have a calendar on their wall, somewhere. At 31 December, the year ends and another one begins. Imagine you have a calendar with, say, 100 years. At the end of the 100th year, 31 December, the calendar will end. Conclusion – the world will end. Makes perfect sense, right ? This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.

As a matter of fact, even the initial interpretation was contested, most archaeologists believing that the end of the calendar is a matter of celebration and entering a new era.

Regardless, believing the world will end because an ancient civilization’s calendar ends is really childish. But who knows, maybe some alien species will find one of our calendar and think the world ends on 31 December.

Read about other popular Mayan doomsday “prophecies” from our debunking series:

NASA about 21 December Doomsday: “It will be another winter solstice”

Debunking conspiracy theories

Oh boy, it’s this time of the year again: grab your supplies and head on to the bunker, cause the world is ending – again. The popular Mayan conspiracy theory that the world is ending on December 21 has made a surprisingly high number of adept, and NASA had to step in. They released quite an interesting post, explaining why this is all just shenanigans. First up, the Mayan calendar:

Their calendar does not end on Dec. 21, 2012. It’s just the end of the cycle and the beginning of a new one. It’s just like on Dec. 31st, our calendar comes to an end but a new calendar for the next year begins on Jan. 1st.

The Mayans did many remarkable things, but they didn’t predict the end of the world.

 

The belief that a now extinct civilization could somehow predict the end of the world thousands of years after their demise does seem a little sci-fi itself. Second up: the giant devastating planet Nibiru.

Niburu is suppose to be a planet that’s four times the size of the Earth. It’s going to get very close to the Earth and cause all kinds of disasters. So this enormous planet is suppose to be coming toward Earth, but if it were, we would’ve seen it long ago and if it were invisible somehow, we would’ve seen the affects of this planet on neighboring planets. Thousands of astronomers who scan the night skies on a daily basis have not seen this.

Aha! But wait, some will say, I know what’s going on here – you’re keeping it all covered up. Seriously, let’s use a little common sense; thousands of astronomers keeping the secret for several years? Every nation, every space agency, every amateur astronomer just hiding it all? Makes sense.

As if that wasn’t enough, other folks are scared of solar flares. Well as NASA themselves explain, the next solar activity will be in May 2013 – fairly mild, nothing serious to be expected. But who can overlook the other theory, that some sort of planetary alignment will cause devastating tidal effects on our planet? First of all, there’s no planetary alignment on Dec 21; and even if there were, the effect other planets would have is truly negligible, much smaller than that of the Moon.

I’ve saved the best for last; some people actually believe that on Dec 21, the Earth’s poles will shift and all sorts of devastating stuff is going to happen. As a geologist, I can clear things here fine, thank you. The Earth’s poles have shifted hundreds or thousands of time in its history; it is a cycle, one that takes places in hundreds of thousands of years, and the shift itself takes millennia to happen, so we’re in the clear here too.

So there you have it people, the odds of any of those things happening is about the same as giant cosmic panda bears with panda weapons show up and bring pandamonium to Earth. Love your friends and family, be kind to them, do what want in life and enjoy it – that’s all.