— Liam McDaid Over ten years ago, many people were convinced that something bad was about to happen. The collapse of the tech bubble? A terrorist attack? No, it was Y2K, otherwise known as the End of The World as We Know It. From shoehorning Nostradamus into the 21st century to warning of impending planetary collisions, TEOTWAWKI has now become an industry of wide reach in the United States, a multi-million dollar profit maker. The AIC (the Apocalypse-Industrial Complex, as I call them) have so many failed predictions, yet there is no accountability for the occurrences when doomsayers have gotten it wrong…and they have done so many times. The AIC seems to have something for everyone, and defying all reason it continues to grow with each passing failure.
Photos: National Geophysical Data Center, NOAO
Clearly Y2K did not end civilization, nor did four other predictions of cosmic doom that were publicized with varying degrees of effectiveness in the nine years since. For those who have been following the Apocalypse-Industrial Complex, their next date was obvious and telegraphed early on: 2012. This date is a convergence of many things that almost guaranteed widespread interest and now is the subject of a huge disaster film. The Maya A prediction by an extinct yet ancient civilization—the Mayan Empire (Figure 1) — is AIC gold. The Maya’s best days were only about twelve hundred years ago (in Charlemagne’s time), but for AIC purposes the Maya do quite well. Although a stone tech people, they were very advanced in other ways. Their mathematics and astronomy as well as their art and architecture was world class. They even had a form of written language. Figure 1. General Extant of the To some, the most interesting thing about the Maya is their Mayan Empire. calendar. It was more advanced and accurate than the calendar of the people who invaded their land from Europe despite, ironically, Europe having recently undergone calendar reform to fix the broken Julian calendar. Their calendar was advanced, in part, by their use of Venus to tell dates, thus avoiding Moon-Sun cycle problems. The Maya also used a system of counting days in a huge cycle. It is well named as the Long Count. The fixed beginning date for the Long Count is August 11, 3114 BCE. Astronomers use a similar device, the Julian date, whose start date is even earlier, January 1, 4713 BCE. The Long Count start is thousands of years before the Mayan civilization existed and was likely picked by them because that date is where their numerical calendar cycles — consisting of cycles of 360 days, ~19.7 and 394.3 years, roughly all based on cycles of 20 — were all set to zero. In our year of 2012 – on December 21 – the Maya Long Count will reset like an odometer at 99,999 miles, beginning the next b’ak’tun of 394 years. Some have seen doom in that fact, but there are those who will find doom in any fact, no matter how innocuous. (See also Kristine Larsen’s article on page 10 for other useful resources to use against 2012 arguments.) spring 2010 7
The Classroom Astronomer
Problems with the Maya for the AIC Firstly, the Maya were not unified politically and there were many differences between the various city-states. One of these differences is in the use of the Long Count. Some city states (like Coba) use many more placeholders in their Long Count; for the Coba Maya, the odometer won’t reset until 4.1 X 1028 years from now. Another problem is that there is no evidence that the ancient Maya saw any catastrophic significance of their Long Count calendar resetting. In fact, their calendar rituals indicate it would’ve been a cause for celebration. Sadly, the Maya culture is but a shadow of what it once was. There are still Maya, and the AIC is all about harnessing their “ancient wisdom.” This only happens, of course, when it supports the AIC’s main premise: that we face a major shift on 12/21/12. Alignments Celestial alignments are...