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The World Won’t End in 2012

Someone is always predicting the end of the world, it seems. The latest popular theory says that the world will end on December 21, 2012, when the Mayan calendar will reach the end of its 5,126 year cycle. That alone is fairly nuts, as USAToday wrote two years ago:"For the ancient Maya, it was a hu...





Someone is always predicting the end of the world, it seems. The latest popular theory says that the world will end on December 21, 2012, when the Mayan calendar will reach the end of its 5,126 year cycle. That alone is fairly nuts, as USAToday wrote two years ago:

"For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle," says Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Crystal River, Fla. To render Dec. 21, 2012, as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting, she says, is "a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in."


But the theory has gotten even crazier since then, as astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson notes in the video clip above. There are tales of an alignment between the Earth, Sun and the galaxy that will end in great catastrophe. There is Nibiru, a.k.a. Planet X, which will supposedly come close enough to Earth to knock the planet off its axis, with resulting calamity. (NASA has a great page debunking Nibiru.) And there's even more.



I had thought that end-of-the-world predictions and cults were a 20th-century invention until I read recently about some dating to the early 1800s. It doesn't matter that prediction of the future is impossible in an Einsteinian universe (that would be the one we live in). There will be people crazy enough to make this stuff up and others gullible enough to believe it. Don't be one of them.



So, when 12/21/12 comes along, don't despair. Instead, let's celebrate the end of the Mayan calendar cycle. Who's bringing the beer?
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About Sarah Zielinski
Sarah Zielinski

Sarah Zielinski is an award-winning science writer and editor. She is a contributing writer in science for Smithsonian.com and blogs at Wild Things, which appears on Science News.

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