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Friday, September 25, 2009

Future of Civilization

 The End of the World As We Know It

ABC News reporter Susan Donaldson James (September 24, 2009) reports, "The iPhone application Twenty12 counts down the moments until the world's destruction -- just three years, 89 days, 13 hours and 15 minutes until December 21, 2012. Some believe that the 2012 date marks the beginning of an apocalypse.

The documentary, 2012: Science or Superstition, explored the various theories surrounding December 21, 2012: the end date of the sophisticated Long Count Calendar created by the ancient Maya in Central America.That's the date that the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar marked as the end of a 5,126-year era, resetting the date to 0 and signaling the end of humanity.

Wikipedia reveals the end date of the Mayan calendar is the basis of the forecast "along with plenty of speculation, such as interpretations of assorted legends, scriptures, numerological constructions, prophecies, and alleged channeling from extraterrestrials."

The 2012 doomsday prediction idea has been disseminated in numerous books and TV documentaries, and has spread around the world as an Internet sensation through websites and discussion groups

Reportedly, as the date nears, the doomsday chatter has lit up the Internet. The search term "Dec. 21, 2012" produces 3,650,000 results on Google." It seems that everyone is cashing in on the prophecy. One Web site,, says it is the "official" site and is selling t-shirts announcing the end of the world is nigh. And they aren't the only ones cashing in. In November, two apocalypse-themed films open -- 2012, starring John Cusack and The Road, with Charlize Theron.

And, even a New Age interpretation of this transition predicts that, during this time, the planet and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era of a sociopolitical age for the global community. (New York Times Magazine, Anastas, 2007)  

Different interpretations of the event spur the interest of readers. G. Jeffrey MacDonald, special correspondent to USA Today (March 27, 2007), reports that journalist Lawrence Joseph forecasts widespread catastrophe in Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation Into Civilization's End. Spiritual healer Andrew Smith predicts a restoration of a "true balance between Divine Feminine and Masculine" in The Revolution of 2012: Vol. 1, The Preparation. In 2012, Daniel Pinchbeck anticipates a "change in the nature of consciousness," assisted by indigenous insights and psychedelic drug use.

"The convergence I see here is the apocalyptic expectations, if you will, along with the fact that the environment is in the front of many people's minds these days," reports Lynn Garrett, senior religion editor at Publishers Weekly. Garrett says. "Part of the appeal of these earth religions is that notion that we need to reconnect with the Earth in order to save ourselves."

But scholars are bristling at attempts to link the ancient Maya with trends in contemporary spirituality. Mayan civilization, known for advanced writing, mathematics and astronomy, flourished for centuries in Mesoamerica, especially between A.D. 300 and 900. Its Long Count calendar, which was discontinued under Spanish colonization, tracks more than 5,000 years, then resets at year zero. The calendar is an interesting, informative artifact to these scholars of ancient civilization, but the speculation on Doomsday prophecy had caused many to scoff.

"For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle," says Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Crystal River, Florida. To render December 21, 2012, as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting, she says, is "a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in."

Part of the 2012 mystique stems from the stars. On the winter solstice in 2012, the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years. This means that whatever energy typically streams to earth from the center of the Milky Way will indeed be disrupted on 12/21/12 at 11:11 p.m. Universal Time.
But scholars doubt the ancient Maya extrapolated great meaning from anticipating the alignment — or if they were even aware of what the configuration would be.

The idea of a global event occurring in 2012 based on any interpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is rejected as pseudoscience by the scientific community, and as misrepresentative of Maya history by Mayanist scholars.

 Asteroid Whammy?

 From Guy Gugliotta, Washington Post Staff Writer (April 9, 2005) comes word that "Asteroid 2004 MN4 is a 'regional' hazard -- big enough to flatten Texas or a couple of European countries with an impact equivalent to 10,000 megatons of dynamite -- more than all the nuclear weapons in the world. Even though it will be a near miss in 2029, that will not be the last word.

 "You don't know what the gravitational effect of the Earth will be," said Brian G. Marsden, who oversees the hunt for near-Earth objects as director of the Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"In 2029, the [close encounter with] Earth will increase the size of the orbit, and the object could get into a resonance with the Earth," he added. "You could get orbit matchups every five years or nine years, or something in between." In fact, 2004 MN4 could come close again in 2034, 2035, 2036, 2037, 2038 or later.

Doomsday Clock Blowup?

Independent Online (, January 13 2007) reports the keepers of the "Doomsday Clock" moved its hands forward next to reflect what they call worsening nuclear and climate threats to the world.

The symbolic clock, maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, currently is set at seven minutes to midnight, with midnight marking global catastrophe.

The group did not say in which direction the hands would move. But in a news release previewing an event next Wednesday, they said the change was based on "worsening nuclear, climate threats" to the world.

"The major new step reflects growing concerns about a 'Second Nuclear Age' marked by grave threats, including: nuclear ambitions in Iran and North Korea, unsecured nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere, the continuing 'launch-ready' status of 2 000 of the 25 000 nuclear weapons held by the US and Russia, escalating terrorism, and new pressure from climate change for expanded civilian nuclear power that could increase proliferation risks," the release reads.

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