We’re all doomed. DOOMED! The Mayans have pinpointed December 21st, 2012 as the end of the Long Count calendar. The hype associated with December 21st is hitting a fevered pace not seen since the presidential election. That same kind of panic the world will experience if the bacon shortage ever comes true. As it turns out, the world will not be ending. You will still need to pay taxes and your electric bill. Not necessarily in that order.
The translation used to convert the Mayan calendar to the Gregorian calendar contained some bad math. Originally completed in the 1920’s, it’s no wonder. They were primitive back then, and they didn’t have Wikipedia to back them up. So the Mayan calendar actually won’t end in 2012 – we’re off by anywhere from 50-100 years. More to the point, what were we expecting from the Mayan doomsday anyway?
Panic-stricken paranoid types will point to a horrific solar flare that will kill us all. Solar activity is nothing to laugh at, unless you enjoy being set on fire. The last major solar storm occurred in 1859, and caused mass destruction. Telegraphs stopped working, telegraph paper ignited, microwave popcorn spontaneously combusted. It was horrible for primitive mankind. Truth be told, we’ve long known the dangers of our sensitive electronic world. A solar flare could actually bring down the internet. Then we’d have to talk to each other. Hell on earth! A solar flare strong enough could short out satellites and landlines, possibly even frying cell phones and laptops. Still, horrible as that sounds, it’s not likely to spell the downfall of the human race. That, and NASA (you know, the people we pay to track this kind of stuff) doesn’t predict a major solar flare until next year.
A rogue asteroid could hit us, but you’d have a better chance of winning the lottery. Then again, the asteroid-space-lottery means only one of us needs to win for all of us to die! If it were a comet, we’d likely see it coming. We probably couldn’t do anything about it, but we’d at least know it was headed our way.
We don’t actually have a lot of information for the Mayan civilization. Turns out the Spanish Conquistadors who ravaged the Yucatan in the 15th century were kind of dicks. They burned every scroll they could find, pretty much wiping out all records of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. The few remaining documents (chiefly, the Popul Voh – which is either the Aztec Old Testament, or a children’s book) says nothing about the world ending at the end of the long count calendar.
The truth is simpler, and the Mayans get the last laugh. The long-count calendar wouldn’t mean anything to the Mayan civilization if they were still around. It’s no different than a New Year for the rest of us. The Mayans probably would’ve had a party. Granted there’d be some beheadings and bloodshed, games of Pok-ta-pok where the losing team was gutted, but hey – man’s gotta be entertained.
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