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The World May End on December 21!

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Well here it is, late December, 2012, a date long awaited by doomsday theorists, a time when many believe our world will end. Others, more optimistic, tell us they anticipate the beginning of a great new era, a time of introspection, cleansing, and cosmic awareness. Still, the general feeling is that our world will end, specifically and exactly, on December 21, 2012. Dare we take these end of the world soothsayers lightly? In China and Russia, as well as in the United States, merchants are seeing sales of shelter supplies increase. In France, many devotees are planning a mountain-top convergence to await the aliens from space.

The main source of the December, 2012, theory of the end has been the much touted and very elaborate work of the Mayans, the Mayan calendar. The Mayans were far ahead of their time, dwelling in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala; they became extinct as a society about 1,200 years ago. The Mayans divided the time cycles of Earth into “world ages.” We are now living, according to Mayan tradition, in the fourth age. The gods, they tell us made several attempts at creation. The first three such attempts failed. Happily, a fourth attempt was successful. According to the Mayans, we are living in the “fourth world” which began on the eleventh of August, 3114 BC, in terms of the Gregorian calendar. This “fourth world” will end on December 21, 2012.

A prominent Mayan astronomer, Maud Worcester Makemson, declared in a 1957 writing that the completion of the Fourth World will be of “utmost significance.” Michael D. Coe in 1966 went considerably further; “There is a suggestion,” he writes, that “that Armageddon will overtake the degenerate peoples of the world and all creation — our present universe — will be annihilated during December of 2012.”

As if that weren’t enough to worry about. The I Ching Book of Changes, a classic Chinese text, points to a numerical formula that analyses the “ebb and flow” of the universe, and culminates with the determination that the “end of time” in combination with “interconnectedness” will reach a “singularity of infinite complexity in 2012, at which point anything and everything imaginable will occur simultaneously.” This conclusion which one Terence McKenna reached in the 1970’s seems a precursory version of the works of modern quantum physicists and current string theory.

Wait, there’s more! Indian guru Kalki Bhagavan, an incarnation of the god Vishnu, has said since 1998 that “2012 marks the end of the Kali Yuga, or degenerate age.” Sources say that 15 million of India’s people agree with the writings of Bhagavan.

I am compelled to continue. There is growing belief among some in the United States and the West that an apocalyptical alignment is coming between the Sun and a supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy which will create havoc on earth. Take courage. Most discount this particular theory as “bunk.”

Here’s the last, and maybe the best. Science and History Channel viewers know that a “gamma ray burst” occurring at the death of a star, even in a vastly distant region, will end all life on earth. This doesn’t happen often, every several billion years, but if such a burst were to occur there would be no warning (the burst coming toward us at the speed of light), and all life on earth would be extinguished. While media outlets haven’t said much about the gamma ray burst scenario, there is speculation that the red supergiant Betelgeuse will nova at some time in the foreseeable future. Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse! The imagination reels!

There is cause for optimism. Many fight fans worldwide witnessed the non-title welterweight boxing match in the Philippines on Saturday night, December 9, between Manny Pacquiao, and the Mexican Pride, Juan Manuel Marquez. It has been noted that presidential contender Mitt Romney was on hand for the bout, in support of Pacquiao. Pacquiao has been plagued for years by an odd jinx; his victories are unexplainably followed, exactly 13 days later, by catastrophic disasters. 13 days after a Pacquiao victory in 2006, a tragic stampede brought loss of life to Manila. Then, 13 days after that, the Philippians were swept by terrible mudslides. Mount Mayon erupted 13 days after a Pacquaio victory. And exactly 13 days after yet another Pacquiao win, a devastating explosion ripped through a Glorietta shopping complex at Ayala Center in Makati, Metropolitan Manila. Consider then, dear reader, that December 21, the predicted day for the end of everything-on-Earth, is precisely 13 days beyond the December 9th match. Good fortune! In round six of the matchup, Juan Manuel Marquez scored an overhand right punch to the face of Pacquaio who went nose-first down in the ring, where he lay motionless for several seconds. Marguez won the contest on the strength of this knockout punch. Since Pacquiao lost, disaster may have been averted!

About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • Dr Dreadful

    If Betelgeuse goes supernova it will certainly be spectacular, but we are in no danger from any resulting gamma ray burst.

    GRBs emanate from the poles of stars. Betelgeuse’s axis, however, is not pointed in our direction.

  • John Lake

    “Most observed GRBs are believed to consist of a narrow beam of intense radiation released during a supernova as a rapidly rotating, high-mass star collapses to form a neutron star, quark star, or black hole..”
    I hope you’re right Doc. That’s a load off!

  • http://huttriverofnz.blogspot.co.uk peter petterson

    End of times, not the end of the world. Good post John.

  • John Lake

    You have a point, Peter. The End of the World is slightly less religious a concept than the End of Times. For many people, the two may go hand in hand. “Both the Hopis and Mayans recognize that we are approaching the end of a World Age… In both cases, however, the Hopi and Mayan elders do not prophesy that everything will come to an end. Rather, this is a time of transition from one World Age into another.”
    I found in my searching a relevant passage from the Qur’an. In the interest of philosophical diversity, I quote it here: “The end times refer to a period very close to the Day of Judgment, when the morality of the Qur’an will come to prevail and people all over the world will come to live by it. The immorality, oppression, cruelty, injustice and degeneration of previous ages will disappear in that holy time to be replaced by abundance, wealth, beauty, peace and stability. There will be tremendous technological advances, which all people will use for good purposes and well-being.”
    As to Christians and Jews (Abrahamic faiths), we find themes of transformation and redemption. The second coming of Christ is mentioned. This second coming may have to face the emergence of the Antichrist.

  • Susan

    its not ture i live in austraila it will not happen here
    we are good people its only la china and russia going under
    water

  • susan

    the world might end but not austraila because
    nothing happens here la and china going down
    and new york

  • Dr Dreadful

    It’s rather comical that so many gullible people give credence to this supposed (and nonexistent) prophecy of the Mayans, a people who for all their chronometric accomplishments were unable to predict the downfall of their own civilization or their conquest by the Spanish.

  • http://www.lunch.com/JSMaresca-Reviews-1-1.html Dr. Joseph S. Maresca

    I think that the correct interpretation is that the world will be entering into a new period. The previous
    5000 year period was a time of great change, as well as great opportunity. I liked John’s analogy to the
    Pacquiao loss. Dr. Dreadful had a good observation too.

    Remember that Jesus Christ predicted His return in 2000 years. That window would be circa
    1994 and 2033 because the birth of Christ was estimated between 6 BC and AD. Also note
    how closely the dissolution of the old Soviet Union came to the projected return of Jesus Christ.

  • Igor

    Much more interesting is the census of stars by Kepler in OUR galaxy, the milky way, which reveals that about 1 out of 2 stars in the Milky Way has a planet! Most are Neptune size, thus too big to support life, so of diminished interest to us Life Chauvinists who are eagerly looking for creatures like ourselves!

    But about 1 in 6 is earth size! Of course it would take thousands of years to travel there, but in the meantime we can search the spectrum for legible emanations and maybe even a broadcast!

    Tune in to Michio Kakus excellent science broadcast and/or get his podcast: “Exploration” on your iPod.

  • John Lake

    Much going on in the sky. As Igor says there probably are billions of planets in our galaxy alone that could support life. Meanwhile we find renewed interest in Apophis, the Uncreator, which passed by today, January 8. Concern continues about the 2029, and 2036 passing which may in fact be an impact event.

  • Igor

    There was an excellent documentary tonight on PBS about the ALMA telescope array in the Atacama desert of Chile.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Apophis will not hit Earth in 2029 and most likely not in 2036 either. There is a small window of space about a kilometre on each side which, if the asteroid passes through it in ’29, will guarantee that it intercepts Earth on its next pass in ’36. However, the probability of it passing through this gravitational keyhole is only about one in a quarter of a million.

    (Phew?)

  • Dr Dreadful

    Igor, do you follow Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog on Slate? If not, you should. The man’s sense of wonder and enthusiasm for the universe is infectious.

  • Igor

    A problem with photometric planet hunters like Kepler is that they depend on fluctuating light from the star-planet pair to detect the planet, instead of direct observation. So, of course they’d be expected to find big planets more easily. Little tiny itty-bitty planets like earth are less likely to be found. But it is re-assuring to find big planets like Jupiter and Saturn because they are necessary in a solar system to protect their little brother planets from big bad bully asteroids from space. Without those big brothers there would be no life on earth since asteroid bombardment would have killed it all.

    But earth-like planets live in the shadow of the Big Boys so they are difficult to see.

  • Igor

    I didn’t know about the Slate column, I’ll give it a look.

    I like to follow certain podcasts (I make up playlists of science subjects, interspersed with BirdNotes instead of commercials, which make up radio narrowcasts for my entertainment). Michio Kaku is good, and I get the Ohio State University Astronomy 141 and Astro 162 podcasts as well as BBC Science, some Scientific American, Science Friday, Quest, etc., and the occasional AAAS Science Magazine podcast. There are others, too.

    I like Kaku because he really knows his stuff and he’s an excellent interviewer, but some of his interviewees mumble too much, and then go into boom mode. Drives me nuts. Maybe I need an AGC for my iPod, or maybe I have to write one.

  • Dr Dreadful

    A problem with photometric planet hunters like Kepler is that they depend on fluctuating light from the star-planet pair to detect the planet, instead of direct observation.

    Right. And this, of course, won’t work if the orbital plane of the observed star’s planets as seen by Kepler doesn’t happen to intersect with the star’s disc.

    Fortunately there are other ways of detecting exoplanets. Kepler just happens to have the best view right now.

  • Igor

    Yes, Kepler requires candidate solar systems coplanar with ours, but since we’ve had such remarkable luck finding them that suggests that there are many more available to other searches.

    This is a really good result! It means that we have rich opportunities.

    We should be able to find compatible exoplanets with ease!

    The best thing is that this legitimizes the expenses of more telescopes, and the eventual design of an unmanned interstellar probe!

  • Igor

    @13-DD: thanks for the ref to Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog on Slate. Very interesting, and engrossing. Excellent photos, which I enjoy immensely.

  • John Lake

    Pragmatically speaking, in view of our difficulties with the economy, and our extreme national debt, it seems the entire space program (with the exception of preparing defense from asteroids and comets) could be put on hold for, say, 50 or even 100 years without any damage.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Which is fine, John, if you feel we could all do without banking, international commerce, navigation, weather forecasting, search and rescue, national defence, geosciences, agricultural monitoring, mineral deposit detection, climate research and most forms of communication for a few decades until the economy recovers. Which it never will if we take your prescription.

  • Dr Dreadful

    News update: Apophis will not be hitting us in 2036 either.

    The asteroid made a close pass to Earth a few days ago, which gave astronomers the opportunity to get a better fix on its orbit. Turns out it will miss by at least 14 million miles.

    So the 2029 encounter, during which this celestial hot potato will approach us closer than some communications satellites, is going to be our best chance to say hi.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    My 2006 BC article has pretier pictures…

    My Astronomy blog has a closeup color photo of it too

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    By the way, glad you’re still here John….

  • Dr Dreadful

    Jet, the asteroid on your blog isn’t Apophis, which has never been seen close-up – in fact until a few days ago we weren’t even sure how big it was. What you have there is the asteroid Gaspra, as seen by the Galileo probe as it flew by in 1991.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Hmmmm I wonder why it was used on a couple of sites 6 years ago??? Well… I’m a little behind the times-thanks for the correction.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    I take that back Doc, This was posted yesterday, and bears a remarkablr resemblance to the image I posted in 2006

    Click here

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Or this? image posted yesterday.

    If I posted the wrong image 6 years ago a lot of people who posted within the last few days and copied mine are going to have red faces!

  • Dr Dreadful

    Sorry again, Jet. The local news station’s caption notwithstanding, that’s the main belt asteroid Ida, also the subject of a Galileo flyby in 1993.

    Ida is interesting. See that little dot on the extreme right of the photo in your link? That’s Dactyl, Ida’s tiny moon. Before Galileo, it was generally assumed that asteroids’ gravity was too weak for them to have moons. Now, over 200 are known to possess them.

  • John Lake

    Re # 20, Doc D.,
    I am waxing outspoken today, so…. I do think the space program for the most part is a profit producing application for politicians and power groups. Having said that, I’m sure that students are benefiting from the program, but they are still prompted into pointless Quantum physics classes in a field they are unlikely to ever work. They might do better in biochemistry, or some area of health-care.
    Weather prediction, navigation, communication are all important, as is a wide range of military areas. But spending billions to rove about mars is a pointless expense, and we already have sufficient telescopes pondering the universe. As to the forthcoming (ongoing?) scam of mining asteroids, proponents agree there will be little to gain for several decades.

    Yes, Jet, I’m here, but I find myself with less time to work on my liberal blogging, and related tasks.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    LIBERAL?????

  • Dr Dreadful

    John, nobody said anything about Mars or asteroid mining. Those are just your straw men, although I could have a separate and spirited argument about them with you as well. Your suggestion was that the space program was something that could be entirely set aside in order to assist economic recovery. As I showed you, such a course of action would have precisely the opposite effect.

  • John Lake

    As I see it, mineral deposit detection has to refer to one of the two fields you claim were unmentioned.
    I don’t see your comments on the clandestine motivations of politicians, or on the urging of students to study the motion of sub-atomic particles, misnamed in some cases …. for example, the notorious “God particle.” (A new can of worms,entirely)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    As I see it, mineral deposit detection has to refer to one of the two fields you claim were unmentioned.

    No, no, no. Satellites are used to detect mineral deposits here on Earth.

    I don’t see your comments on the clandestine motivations of politicians, or on the urging of students to study the motion of sub-atomic particles

    Which again are wild cards you introduced and have nothing to do with the economics of the space program.

    misnamed in some cases …. for example, the notorious “God particle.” (A new can of worms,entirely)

    Scientists refer to it as the Higgs boson while journalists are the ones who insist on perpetuating the “God particle” nickname. Again, can’t see what this has to do with space.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    And Jet – I’m afraid you and your readers are just going to have to be red-faced. You can blame news editors and bloggers who want a photo to go with their stories about how a giant rock is going to turn us all into space blancmange. Unfortunately, the best images we currently have of Apophis are pixellated blobs, which don’t look too good on the nightly news. So they look around for something sexier (just for illustrative purposes, you understand), and it just so happens that Galileo‘s shots of Gaspra and Ida are some of the best close-up pictures of asteroids we have. Then the bloke in the newsroom who does the captions and knows bugger all about astronomy gets his wires crossed and thinks it actually is a photo of Apophis, and that’s how the whole thing starts.

  • John Lake

    Satellites used to detect mineral deposits here on Earth. Imagine that!
    My overriding point is that the space program (and particle accelerators) can be placed on the back burner, indefinitely, with no damage being done.
    The tie in is that the bits and pieces sold by manufacturers for the space program are made by the same agents that sell for the accelerators. Both produce extreme profit, and are somewhat pointless.
    The Swiss accelerator clearly supports that matter at the speed of light pulses and shifts between energy, matter. This is an important discovery to theorists, I don’t dispute.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    John, from a position of ignorance it simply isn’t possible to determine whether a particular field of inquiry is pointless or not. That’s why we do science.

    I imagine there were a lot of people who thought Michael Faraday was wasting his time fiddling with electricity. And what about the Curies buggering about with poisonous metals? How pointless must that have seemed?

    For my money, it takes an extravagantly Luddite sort of outlook to decide that exploring the fundamentals of how our universe is put together counts as a “somewhat pointless” exercise.

  • John Lake

    Done in good faith, I agree. Done for profit and with false declarations of intent, I don’t agree.

  • Igor

    DD is right: no matter what it looks like or how it’s justified, basic science research is the key to our futures and our very survival.

    Scientists don’t get rich on their projects. If they wanted to get rich they would become financial and banking operators, which requires less knowledge, learning and sacrifice.

  • John Lake

    Good news! : According to scientists, Apophis in 2036, now seen as being larger than previously believed, will be somewhat farther away, and not a threat.
    ‘“Certainly 2036 is ruled out,” said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program. “It’s why we track them so we can be assured that they won’t get dangerously close.” Yeomans said now the asteroid, named after an evil Egyptian mythical serpent, won’t get closer than 19,400 miles. That’s still the closest approach asteroid watchers have seen for a rock this large. And when astronomers got a closer look they noticed it was about 180 feet larger than they thought, but not a threat.’

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    As I reported on this thread yesterday…

    Fox News, on the ball as usual. :-)