Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2012: Much ado about nothing


Fear not, everybody.  Everything's gonna be okay.

Another New Year is fast approaching.  Just around the corner as a matter of fact.  Except this one has a more ominous ring to it.  It's 2012, the year that it all comes to an end or so they say.  Armageddon.  The Apocalypse.  Stuff hitting the fan.  I never finished eating all my Spam from Y2K so I guess it's a good thing I still have it around.
But those fine folks at NASA (and if you can't trust them who can you trust?) have let us know that there is absolutely no need to fear the end of the world on December 21st, 2012.  So says an article posted recently on Space.com.  And to think that it all started with the ancient Mayan calendar.

"The short-count was 52 of our years, and the long-count was 5,125 years long. This long-count calendar is coming to an end on Dec. 21," said astronomer Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Of course, a new calendar would start on Dec. 22. 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. The Maya never predicted the end of the world occurred at that time."

Yeomans went on to systematically dismantle every popular scenario for a 2012 doomsday next December.  Will an unprecedented planetary alignment cause wackiness in space?  Well, there is no alignment on December 21st, 2012 and even if there were one, its the gravitational effects of The Moon and The Sun that have any effect on us.  The other planets in our solar system and their rotations and position have a negligible influence.  Solar storms?  Streams of radioactive particles released from solar eruptions and hurled straight towards our Big Blue Marble?  Well, there's a bit of truth to that scenario.

We are heading into a period of strong solar activity.  Such solar flares may be powerful enough to knock out electrical power in isolated areas for several days or even in larger grids for a short period.  That's about it, though.  Nothing, as Yeomans states in the article, that will cause "lasting damage."  Wait, what about "pole shift?"  Well, it seems that the magnetic poles of a planet really can shift...over a period of 500,000 years.  If ours did shift, our Moon would keep us stabilized.  The most we'd have to do is change our compasses.

But what about "Planet X?"  Um...let's just say it's not looking too likely.

So if you want to cleave towards the apocalyptic theories and get into a bunker on December 20th, 2012, awaiting the end of the world, that's cool.  Just say you'll listen to The Cure's "Burn" while you're hunkering down with your Spam...and try not to be too disappointed when the Sun really does rise the following morning.  Yes, somewhere the ancient Mayans are probably laughing at us all yet one of their predictions really did come to pass: the movie 2012 was every bit as bad as they predicted it would be.

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