By Yulun Wu
As the fall 2011 semester approaches the midway mark, I’m sure many students have the same concerns: how do I memorize the most formulas in a short amount of time? How many more papers will I have to write? Will I be able to pass Chemistry so I can move on? What
will happen to me December 31st, 2011 at 12:00 am? Wait, what?? Well, not everyone is thinking that last question, but certainly a lot of people are wondering about the whole 2012 end-of-the-world rumor. And an equal amount of people are wondering if it will be the end when the new year comes around.
Debunking the Myths
First, the various conspiracies. There have been many conspiracies floating around about how the end of the world is going to happen. There have even been movies made about it (2012, anyone?). Some of the myths are frighteningly possible (such as a virus wiping out humankind or asteroids hitting the Earth), while others are laughably ridiculous (multiple natural disasters hitting all at once).
And the truth is…?
Let me recap what the hubbub is about. According to Universe Today, archaeologists went to South America to look at the ruins of the Mayans, an ancient civilization that once lived in South America. What they found was incredible: it’s deduced from the finds that the Mayans were phenomenal scientists and mathematicians who predicted solar and lunar eclipses correctly and created high-technology gadgets, something very advanced for a civilization in that era. The researchers found, along with other gadgets, calendars that the Mayans had made. One of the calendars was called “The Long Count”, which is a numerically predictable calendar that runs in cycles. The researchers noticed that he calendar ended at the year A.D. 2012. Many people speculated about what the calendar meant, and the well known rumor of the world ending in 2012 was born. According to NASA, however, if you align the Long Count calendar with our Gregorian calendar, the dates run from 3114 B.C. to 2012 A.D. So what the Mayans were figuring was when the first cycle or phase would end, not when the end of the world would occur.
Although cataclysmic events like the world ending in 2012 are great plots to attract viewers to the movie theater, chances that the event will actually happen are slim. No worries… for now.