Friday, November 23, 2012

Doomsday 2012

It's that one that everybody knows, but nobody will quite admit to believing -- that the world is going to end on 21 December 2012. 

The usual story is that it's because of some Mayan Prophecy and an asteroid hitting the earth. Or the magnetic poles flipping. Or the sun going supernova and flame broiling all life on earth. Or something.

So what's it all about?

Usually it's seen with something that looks like this:

But that's not even Mayan -- it's the Aztec "Stone of the Sun". You've got to take anything with a grain of salt when they can't even get the culture right for their pictograph proof. 

So what is the Mayan Calendar? It's a little complicated  but basically, the Mayans had a calendar within a calender. 

I'll explain it the best I can. We write our dates in days of the month, months, and years. I'm going to write this vertically like the Mayans did so they stay the same:

So if you're American:

  • Month
  • Day
  • Year

 If you're from pretty much everywhere else:

  • Day
  • Month
  • Year

The Mayans had a similar system, but with more counting systems. Kind of like how some places have both a lunar calender and a solar calender:

  • Kin = 1 day.
  • Uinal = 20 kin = 20 days. 
  • Tun = 18 uinal = 360 days. 
  • Katun = 20 tun = 360 uinal = 7,200 days. 
  • Baktun = 20 katun = 400 tun = 7,200 uinal = 144,000 days.

There was the Calendar Round system, which was a calender like we use today, broken into 18 months of 20 days. So like how we have days, months, and years, the Mayan Calender had Kin, Uinal, and Tun. (You might have noticed that 18 times 20 only equals 360, and not 365 days. Each year was ended with 5 "unlucky" days that didn't belong to any month.) This calendar worked in cycles of 52 Haab' (think "century"). *

But what that meant was that the Calender Round would reset to the year 0 every 52 years. Which would be ridiculous. But it was paired up with the Long Cycle calender with Katun and Baktun, which is the one that's getting all the 2012 buzz. The Long Cycle gave another number to the date that the Calender Round date fit into so that every day ever would have a unique number.

Now, what happens on 21 December 2012? 

The long count calender rolls over to a new Baktun. So 20 December 2012 in Mayan would be written 12, 19, 19, 17, 19. (Mayans started counting with 0, so it was 20 days 0 - 19).

21 December 2012 will be written, 13, 0, 0, 0, 0

That's it. That's all that is happening. 

So how did the end of the world get wrapped up in it? 

It certainly didn't have anything to do with the Mayans. Enter Nancy Lieder.

Lieder claims to have been in contact with what she calls "Zetas." According to her, they're a race of super-advanced aliens who implanted a communication device in her head when she was a child. Using this device , the Zetas told her that "Planet X" was going to come and destroy the earth on the 27th of May, 2003. When this failed to happen, she hastily explained that the given date was a "White Lie ... to fool the establishment." ** Because of reasons, I suppose. After this, many of her followers latched onto the Baktun rollover as a "probable" real date for the end of the world. 

And then somehow took over the internet. 

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