Should we cancel our Christmas parties and prepare for the Mayan doomsday prophecy?

By Jordan Weiker

Campus Life Assistant Editor

Dec. 21 is approaching, and some people have suggested that this year we’ll be receiving an early Christmas present: a catastrophic end to life as we know it.

Doomsday prophecies have existed for centuries. The Dec. 21 prophecy is perhaps the most famous in recent times because it was predicted by the Mayans, a Mesoamerican civilization that once flourished in the modern-day Yucatan peninsula.

The Mayans excelled at mathematics and calendar-making, according to history.com. The best known of these Mayan-made calendars is the long-count calendar, which is also the source for the Dec. 21 apocalyptic prediction.

“The calendar is based on a set of calculations that counted the number of years since a mythical creation date of Aug. 11, 3114 B.C.,” according to Agence France-Presse News. “The creation date is written as 13.0.0.0.0 on the long-count calendar. Nov. 13, 2720 B.C., is written as 1.0.0.0.0, while Feb. 16, 2325 B.C., is written as 2.0.0.0.0. Dec. 21, 2012, is written once again as 13.0.0.0.0.”

Because the long-count calendar stops at 13.0.0.0.0., the 2012 doomsday argument has surfaced as a result.

Some of the doomsday theories for Earth’s end on this day include a killer solar flare, a comet heading for Earth (possibly unleashing a monster ocean wave) and a geomagnetic pole reversal, according to Discovery News.

The question, though, is whether or not the 2012 phenomenon is just another nonsensical doomsday theory.

“It is true that the Mayans were knowledgeable about celestial movements and calculations, which surprised the Spanish conquistadores, but Mayan narratives on world destruction are pedagogical mythologies, as many other ancient cultures and civilizations had,” said Jesús Jambrina, coordinator of the Latin American Studies program at Viterbo.

“The scientific community agrees on no existing evidence whatsoever on any cataclysmic event on that date,” Jambrina told Lumen.

“Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after Dec. 31, the Maya calendar does not cease to exist on Dec. 21, 2012,” according to NASA.gov. “This date is the end of the Maya long-count period, but then—just as your calendar begins again on Jan. 1—another long-count period begins for the Maya calendar.”

Scientists from NASA also agreed, “There are no credible predictions for worrisome astronomical events in 2012. Solar activity has a regular cycle, with peaks approximately every 11 years. Near these activity peaks, solar flares can cause some interruption of satellite communications, although engineers are learning how to build electronics that are protected against most solar storms. But there is no special risk associated with 2012.”

“The next solar maximum will occur in the 2012-2014 time frame and is predicted to be an average solar cycle, no different than previous cycles throughout history. The Earth’s magnetic field, which deflects charged particles from the sun, does reverse polarity on time scales of about 400,000 years, but there is no evidence that a reversal, which takes thousands of years to occur, will begin in 2012.”

“I don’t think we should worry about anything else that day other than getting close to a good fire at home to fight winter outside,” concluded Jambrina.

And if scientists are wrong, at least students won’t have to worry about paying back their student loans.

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