The ancient Mayan calendar was a remarkably accurate and complex timepiece adopted by Mesoamerican nations, such as the Aztecs and the Toltec. The calendar measured time in longer periods, with a short-count and a long-count. The long-count calendar is destined to end on December 21, 2012, a date some believe marks the end of the world.
Not so fast, declares astronomer Don Yeomans, the manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object program office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. It is only the calendar that ends on this date and not the world. "It would be like saying that our calendar ends Dec. 31, and that's the end of time, the end of days, that's it, no regard for how a new cycle would begin," Yeoman said at Space.com
, before adding that "the Maya never predicted the end of the world occurr[ing] at that time."
E. C. Krupp, Director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles goes one step further. He suggests in the "The Great 2012 Doomsday Scare
," how "frightful rumors and gossip are spreading" around the world simply because it sells books and movies. "None of it is true," he adds. In fact, say NASA scientists, the only thing of note for 2012, will be the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.
Still, the ideas involved in the ending of the world, have been nothing if not creative. From alien battles to giant black holes swallowing the Earth; the planet will be collided with, the population infected with disease, and parasites could turn the world into a sea of walking dead who chomp on one another. Then of course, there is the dreaded planet of Niribu.
The planet Niribu, which sounds oddly like a tribe from the hit TV game show Survivor
, has been assessed as this year's most likely world-ender. Also called Planet X, (original), this rogue sphere even boasts its own Niribu expert – Nancy Lieder.
Lieder, who claims she talks with aliens from the star system star Zeta Reticuli, says the Planet Niribu is hiding behind the sun and is aimed at Earth which it will strike like a bowling ball. The first attempt, according to Lieder's initial predictions, was set for May 2003. It must have been a gutter ball because Earth is still here but Lieder now estimates that Niribu is gearing up for a second strike on, yes, Dec. 21, 2012
Poppycock, implies Yeoman, who insists that "there's no evidence whatsoever that Nibiru exists, [...] it can't hide behind the sun forever," he says, "and we would've seen it years ago." But what would a New Year be without some doom and gloom?
Last year's world-ender came courtesy of Harold Camping. Camping predicted the Rapture, signifying the end of the world by May 2011. Forced to re-calibrate the date to Oct. 21, 2011 as May came and went, the president of Family Radio
insisted that he wasn't wrong, rather the "spiritual" judgment occurred in May, the actual physical Rapture would follow on October 21, 2011. On this date, Camping said, all Christian folks would ascend to heaven. Camping's followers in many cases, gave away everything they owned only to find themselves disappointed and destitute on the morning of Oct. 22.
But can every potential world-ender be dismissed as cuckoo?
There is one scenario that possesses a significant foothold and readily sends chill down the spine – nuclear war. In the past decade, certain entities have displayed a propensity for destruction, no matter the cost. A single nuclear conflict could conceivably cause devastation across the globe and have the power to change life on earth forever. If one wishes to believe in Armageddon and the end of the world, it becomes a far more plausible option, when placed in the lap of mankind.