- Education and Science
The Mayans Weren't Predicting Our Demise, They Just Ran Out of Stone for the Calendar
When the Mayans created the calendar and predicted “the end” of the world they based it loosely around a cosmic event. This event includes the sun and the “Dark Rift” (also known as the Great Rift). The Dark Rift is a section of the Milky Way that has around 1 million overlapping gas clouds and is about 100 parsecs (300 light years) from Earth. The Mayan’s believed that this rift was the birth canal of their goddess. They believed that their prophecy would be fulfilled when the sun crossed over the Dark Rift. The only problem here is that the Sun will take a very long time to cross over this rift, over 100 years. So why did they choose 2012 to pin this on? Was it at the end or beginning of its transition? It’s actually somewhere in the middle. 2012 was most likely chosen because at the end of this year (roughly around December 21st) the winter solstice will occur and the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way. This alignment only happens once every 26,000 years and the fact that it coincides with the ending of their Long-Count Calendar is why it was most likely chosen. Just like any calendar we have created though, the long-count calendar was created to start over and be reused. Its ending doesn’t symbolize any special event.
I will go ahead and cover a few other theories quickly. To begin, the polar shift theory. This theory can be disproved in only a few sentences. The belief that a polar shift would create the world’s demise is a comical topic. It takes roughly 5,000 years for the poles to go through a “shifting” process. The process has not been documented to ever happen and the only time it was believed to have happened was over 700,000 years ago.
All other cosmic involved catastrophic events can be thrown out. If we had a meteor or a planet that was heading our way and would ultimately be our demise, you think we would have seen it by now? With all of the satellites we have and how many people worldwide we have viewing the skies 24/7, I think we would know about something soaring through space towards us.
The belief that the Mayan calendar ends 2012 and signifies our demise is the last topic I will cover. To begin, the long-count calendar is the way that the Mayans kept track of their days. To briefly explain it, there are 5 parts to the calendar. The organization of the dates is set up by 5 numbers separated by periods (0.0.0.0.0). The first number ranges from 1 to 20 and once it reaches 20 it is counted as 1 for the second number (i.e. 0.0.0.0.20 = 0.0.0.1.0). The second number ranges from 1 to 18 and once it reaches 18 it is counted as 1 for the third number. The third number ranges from 1 to 20. And the fourth number ranges from 1 to 20 as well. What this means is that they believed there were 20 days in a month, 18 months in a year, 20 years in their decade, and 20 decades in a millennia.
To show you the math; for the first number you multiply by 1, for the second number you multiply by 20, for the third number you multiply by 360, for the fourth number you multiply by 7200, and for the fifth number you multiply by 144000. Of course each subsequent number is just the prior number multiplied. To give you an example: 220.127.116.11.0.
0 x 1 = 0
2 x 20 = 40
5 x 360 = 1800
6 x 7200 = 43200
5 x 144000 = 720000
So this example is 765,040 days into the year.
According to the Mayans we are the fourth creation of the Gods. A millennium is called a “b’ak’tun” to the Mayans. They believed that the third creation of the Gods ended at the beginning of the 14th b’ak’tun. The third creation of the Gods ended on a long count of 18.104.22.168.19. If we believe the Mayans; the next b’ak’tun will be our 13th and our last. 22.214.171.124.19 is December 20, 2012.
If we are to believe their numbers it is clear that we will inevitably end as the fourth creation of the Gods this December. Though this is bad, it is worth noting that the Mayans didn’t believe this to be a bad thing. They viewed this mark as a note of celebration.
The only problem I have with this involves the Leap Year. The leap year didn’t get introduced into the calendar until 45BC when Caesar created it. Since its creation we have had around 514 leap years. If Caesar hadn’t created the leap year today would be October 29, 2013 (roughly). By those calculations we have already passed December 21, 2012 and we logically should have already died. This also influences all other events. It means that the Mayans hadn’t pinpointed the exact occurrence of the winter solstice, among other things.