A Few Words on the “Mayan Apocalypse” That Wasn’t
December 21, 2012 — the day that some feared would be the end of all things — came and went without any notable occurrences. It was fun to get in on all the jokes that inevitably resulted, but a thinking man’s review of all of the hoopla leading up to the apocalyptic dud reveals just how much Grade-C bologna was being thrown around. There are a few things that need to be made clear here and now.
The Mayan calendar did not “predict the apocalypse” per se. It just stopped counting. If you have a 2012 calendar on your wall, it stops on December 31, which doesn’t mean there won’t be a 2013. That stone on which they carved it is not that big, you know, and it just happened that yesterday was the last day they could fit on it. Furthermore, Mayans actually celebrate reaching the end of a bak’tun (calendar cycle), which is what they did on December 21.
The “scientific” explanations of things that would go wrong were so heinously inaccurate that even those with a passing interest in physics would cringe. Would-be doomsday prophets theorized that, for example, a planet would collide with Earth. If that were going to happen, Earth would have seen it a long time before December 21, because planets just don’t appear. The predictions of a star, like a brown dwarf or even a main-sequence star, were utterly ridiculous. For one thing, if there were a bright rogue star heading towards Earth, just like the planet, people would have known about it since long before you were born. The real kicker is that you cannot put something that massive in the solar system and not have it throw off the orbits of everything inside it, including Earth. It wouldn’t have had to get close to do it, either; all it takes is a basic understanding of gravity.
There’s more to it, and Neil deGrasse Tyson breaks it down:
In short, nothing was going to happen on December 21, but Hollywood made a few bucks from the movies about it and some TV channels got ratings. I hope you all paid your bills on time, anyway.