Sunday, October 18, 2009

New apocalypse coming

At least that's a current fad in esoteric circles, where apocalyptic predictions never really go out of style. This one in particular has to do with 2012 and the Mayan calendar, as By G. Jeffrey MacDonald in Does Maya calendar predict 2012 apocalypse? USA Today 03/27/2007. As 2012 gets closer in time, interest seems to be growing. I'm sure the publicity for the disaster movie 2012 is helping spur interest.

The last time the Mayan apocalypse was due to arise was 1992, or rather 1992 was taken to be the last 20-year phase before the end. In those days, the 2012 prophecy was connected to what was called the Harmonic Convergence, which was seen as a rather more benign beginning to the apocalypse or preparation for it than the current esoteric hype around 2012 seems to promise for the coming years.

The now-forgotten book that set off that Mayan apocalypse-to-be was The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology (1987) by José Arguelles. Arguelles predicted that 1992 was the beginning of the final 20-year cycle of the Mayan calendar, which would of course end in 2012. So the Harmonic Convergence was more of a pre-apocalypse. The Aztec calendar was also something involved in his convoluted theory. And it involved the Mayans having been space aliens who landed on Earth way in the backety-back and left around 800 CE.

Bob Berman in "End of the world: 2012" Astronomy Dec 2007 explains a version of the 2012 doomsday theory:

The various Mayan calendars merely had different cycles -- the longest resembling our own millennium ending and a new one starting. Nothing momentous accompanied such time-keeping -- the cycles were like the Sun rising and setting.

But now the fun begins, as people up with exquisitely moronic astrobabble in an attempt to find something celestial that might happen as the Mayan long count clicks over like a car's odometer. And bingo: Earth's orbit makes the Sun pass in front of the galactic plane, the Milky Way, twice a year, every June and December.

Some web sites claim the Sun passes right in front of the galaxy's center, but that never happens -- our orbit isn't tilted that way. In any case, the scare literature claims stars lying beyond the Sun will channel some sort of unspecified "energy" our way. No matter that nothing ever happened before when the Sun crossed the galactic plane. Nor does anyone explain why the distant background should matter to begin with. Do we care if a friend stands in front of a parked car instead of a tree?
He's obviously a non-believer. But if the Sun suddenly increases to 10 or 20 times its heat on the December solstice that year, all of us will presumably have a few seconds to become believers before were quick-fried out of existence.

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