Image Credit: NASA / Don Davis
Today, the movie 2012 opens in theaters. The basic plot is that the Mayan calendar ends on the solstice in 2012, portending doom for all on this planet. I'm not going to see the movie, as I'm not a fan of disaster movies (except, perhaps, the Samuel L. Bronkowitz classic "That's Armageddon"). If you want to see major cities around the world destroyed and humanity struggle to survive, then this is probably the film for you.
I mention the film because there is an ever-growing chorus of people who think that the world actually will end on December 21, 2012. These people are wrong, their claims are made on bad (and often fabricated) science, and many of them are just out to make money off of gullible people. Rather than go through a litany of the claims about 2012, let me point you to a few reputable websites that have the science and the cultural history correct:
- 2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won't End? -- NASA's FAQ on the 2012 myths
- The Great 2012 Doomsday Scare -- an article from Sky & Telescope magazine reprinted on NASA's website
- 2012 FAQ -- from the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. If anyone can interpret the Mayan calendar, I'll believe the people who actually study the Mayan civilization
I've seen comments on other blogs by people who think NASA is wasting money by trying to debunk the 2012 doomsday predictions. First, the website doesn't cost that much money -- the web server already existed, and the salary cost for the appropriate research and page design is probably less than the cost of one bolt on the next shuttle launch's external tank. If NASA's efforts can help people to realize that folks who claim 2012 will be the end of the world are full of it, then the investment is more than worthwhile.
If you know anyone who is worried about some looming disaster in 2012, please point them to reliable resources and try and dispel them of that mistaken notion. Again, we are talking about our friends and neighbors who are being bilked and scared by a nonexistent threat.
To those who will claim that I'm just part of a big conspiracy to hide the truth, you're sadly misinformed. If I suspected that the world was going to end or an asteroid was going to hit or the Earth's rotation were going to stop or Mayan gods were going to descend and wreak havoc on the world, I would not be sitting in a dark little office in front of a computer screen writing this blog. I'd be out enjoying life, exploring nature, and running up a huge tab because I'd know I'd never have to pay. Even if "they" were to threaten to kill me, I still wouldn't be here. If I'm going to die in the great catastrophe of 2012, then "they" would not be able to threaten me.