The Truth About 2012 (The End is NOT Near)
Much has been written and said about the impending approach of the end of the world, as allegedly foreseen by the Maya and represented by the “end” of their calendar on December 21, 2012. Several other assertions, astronomical and otherwise, have been linked to this claim of a shutdown of the Maya calendar to promote a focus on this date. All these claims are completely without scientific merit. But they have gotten a lot of unjustified media and public attention. This page is provided as a resource to counter these claims.
December 11, 2012 Lecture At Seti Institute: Why The World Will Still Be Here After December 21
Dr. David Morrison (NASA Ames Research Center), Dr. Ed Krupp (Griffith Observatory), and Andrew Fraknoi (Foothill College) will discuss the “end” of the Maya Calendar on December 21, and how this has been treated by the media. The speakers will also examine the negative effect on the public of this millennial meme, as well as ways of promoting a successful scientific message on the topic in the YouTube era.
The program is being held on December 11, 2012, at the SETI Institute in northern California, but if you’d like to watch the presentation live that night (7:00-8:00 p.m. P.S.T.), just visit the SETI Institute’s Google Hangout: click here. The program will also be video archived at this site after the presentation.
Lecture By Dr. E. C. Krupp Regarding 2012
On November 4, 2009, Observatory Director Dr. E. C. Krupp presented a lecture for Distinctive Voices @ The Beckman Center, a public science program of the National Academy of Sciences which was co-sponsored by the Orange County Society of the Archeological Institute of America. To watch a video of that lecture courtesy of The Beckman Center, please click here.
Cover Article In November 2009 Sky & Telescope Magazine
Observatory Director Dr. E. C. Krupp, an expert on the Maya calendar and its relationship to the motions of the sky, writes in the cover article for the November 2009 Sky & Telescope magazine that “most of what’s claimed for 2012 relies on wishful thinking, wild pseudoscientific folly, ignorance of astronomy, and a level of paranoia worthy of Night of the Living Dead.” He addresses each of the claims made regarding the “impending” apocalypse, with a particular focus on the wildly distorted interpretations of the Maya calendar. Read the entire article.
The Five Most Common Misrepresentations About 2012
While the “end of the Maya calendar” foolishness is the starting point for most 2012 discussions, several other astronomical “events” have been drawn into the mix. All of these claims are fatally flawed and do not make sense. Each of them is listed below, followed by a straightforward discussion of why they do not pass muster.
1. The Maya Calendar is “Ending”
FALSE. The Maya calendar is not spooling up the thread of time. It is coming to the end of a particular cycle in an unending sequence of cycles. According to the rules of the Maya calendar system, a primary interval, Baktun 13, for all practical purposes ends on the winter solstice, 2012. Although pseudoscientific claims have linked this calendrical curiosity to a Maya prophecy of the end of time, there is no evidence for ancient Maya belief in the world’s end in 2012 or even in any unusual significance to the cycle’s completion.
The Maya calendar relied on multiple cycles of time. In Maya tradition, these cycles of time run far into the future, and there are ancient Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions that project time into the future well beyond 21 December 2012. At the end of Baktun 13 (a period of 144,000 days or 394 years), a new baktun will begin. There is no Baktun-13 end of time. The notion of a Baktun-13 transformational end of time is modern. It originated in Mexico Mystique, a book published in 1975 by an American writer, Frank Waters, who made computational errors.
2. We Are Emerging from a Galactic “Beam”
FALSE. In 1987, the notion of the Maya forecast of the end times was linked to a “beam” from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. The writer who introduced this galactic element also promoted it through 1987’s Harmonic Convergence. According to him, we emerge from the beam on winter solstice, 2012 because that’s when the Maya calendar “ends.” In reality, there is no galactic beam either observed or predicted). There is no astronomical or observational fact here, just assertion.
3. The Sun’s Pathway Through the Milky Way Is Somehow Related.
FALSE. Others have also noted the gradual precessional shift of the Sun’s position at winter solstice across the Milky Way. They have claimed the winter solstice Sun will coincide with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy in 2012. In fact, the winter solstice Sun does not get closer than 3 degrees to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. This is equal to six full moons, a very large discrepancy, even for the unaided eye. And the winter solstice Sun is actually closer to the center of Galaxy 200 years after 2012. Even a superficial glance at a typical celestial atlas verifies the current configuration. This is not true. The winter solstice Sun never coincides with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. There is no “galactic alignment” on winter solstice, 2012. There is no meaningful midpoint across the Milky Way. A midpoint for the winter solstice sun’s precessional passage across the Milky Way cannot be defined to a century, let alone a single day (and certainly not to 21 December 2012).
4. A Planetary Alignment Will Destroy the Earth.
FALSE. Some have claimed an alignment of planets occurs on winter solstice, 2012, and will cause a catastrophic reversal of the earth’s magnetic field. There is no such planetary alignment on winter solstice, 2012, and even if all the planets did align in this fashion, it would not cause such a reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field. There have been numerous planetary alignments and they have had no effect on the Earth.
5. The Mysterious Planet Niburu Is Headed Our Way.
FALSE. Conspiracy fatalists are convinced that the imaginary planet Niburu is out there and headed our way. According to this bizarre scenario, NASA, the astronomical community, and presumably everyone else “in the know” (except, of course, the ancient Maya calendar keepers) allegedly have observed the approach of the planet, placed an embargo on this knowledge, and are deliberately misleading the public. Proponents of this view imagine that all of the Earth’s hundreds of thousands of private and public telescopes are linked together in one giant, coordinated effort to mislead the public regarding the existence of this upcoming disaster, though it is not clear why they would do so if the world was going to end anyway. Of course, there is no Niburu on a collision course with Earth for winter solstice, 2012, or for any other date. There is absolutely no evidence of the existence of such a planet at all. The claims about Niburu are like those for the discredited “Planet X” hoax from 2003-04.
For More Information
For more information about 2012 fallacies, NASA has posted an extensive archive of questions and answers regarding the subject on the Ask An Astrobiologist page. We will post additional links to other useful resources over the coming months.