I saw this article today, and for those of you who haven't heard about it yet, I guarantee at some point in the next three years, you will:
December 12, 2012 is the end of the Mayan calendar, and therefore, will be the end of days.
Okay, not quite, although like Y2K or when the planets aligned perfectly in 1983, you will hear all sorts of doomsday predictions about 12.21.12. (Quick side note about 1983 -- there was a science teacher in my high school who was convinced the world would truly end on the day the planets aligned, and even went so far as to take the day off and cower in her basement with her family. You can imagine her embarrassment when Life went on.)
Heck, there's even an upcoming movie capitalizing on the alleged soon-to-be-upon-us predicted end of the world -- simply titled 2012, and starring John Cusack!
For those who are unfamiliar with the growing hype, the theory goes that the Maya, a surprisingly advanced peoples who inhabited much of Central America for 11,000 years or so, were ancient whizzes at math, language, architecture and of course, astronomy. Among their many other amazing achievements, they were able to create a complicated yet incredibly accurate calendar that has precisely predicted everything from eclipses to solstices to other celestial events. And as it turns out, their 5,126-year calendar abruptly ends on -- you guessed it -- December 21, 2012, the winter solstice and a date coincidentally when our sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way galaxy!
[*insert ominous "dun-dun-dun!!!*]
Fire and brimstone, earthquakes and eruptions, asteroids and celestial destruction! Hello apocalypse!!
Sadly, many people will be swept up in the myth, mania and hearsay, and very few will take the time to discover that the demise of the Earth isn't exactly what the Maya predicted. Actually, very little of what the Maya thought of the date is available. The end of Mayan calendar cycles were generally times of change and transformation, not cataclysmic destruction, so it's more likely that the date is a positive experience, a step forward for the planet toward a better existence.
But hey, why let the facts get in the way of an impending apocalypse and all the glorious hysteria that can bring, right?
If you're interested in reading something non-hysterical and fairly informed, including the myriad flaws in the Mayan end-of-days scenario, we suggest Exit Mundi.