Conceptual artwork by Barbara McGunigal.
The countdown has 38 months left until December 21, 2012, and already low-grade hysteria about the end of the world is occurring. According to the Associated Press in a 2012 status report:
At Cornell University, Ann Martin, who runs the "Curious? Ask an Astronomer" website, says people are scared.
"It's too bad that we're getting emails from fourth-graders who are saying that they're too young to die," Martin said. "We had a mother of two young children who was afraid she wouldn't live to see them grow up."
Triggering this unfortunate example, of course, is the ancient Mayan calendar, which already is the source of considerable debate.
The Mayan civilization, which reached its height from 300 A.D. to 900 A.D., had a talent for astronomy. Its Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., marking time in roughly 394-year periods known as Baktuns. Thirteen was a significant, sacred number for the Mayas, and the 13th Baktun ends around Dec. 21, 2012.
"It's a special anniversary of creation," said David Stuart, a specialist in Mayan epigraphy at the University of Texas at Austin. "The Maya never said the world is going to end, they never said anything bad would happen necessarily, they're just recording this future anniversary on Monument Six."
For the blissfully ignorant, Monument Six is a stone tablet found at an obscure ruin in southern Mexico during highway construction in the 1960s. Parts of the tablet were stolen upon its discovery, but the remaining parts contain the equivalent of the date 2012. The inscription describes something that is supposed to occur in 2012 involving Bolon Yokte, a mysterious Mayan god associated with both war and creation.
The Associated Press article recites some of the arguments from believers and non-believers and is just a hint of what we can expect from the media over the next three years. I’d say the kickoff for the real hysteria will be the opening next month of the movie “2012,” with its incredible special effects depicting earthquakes, meteor showers and a killer tsunami.
Click here for the Associated Press article.
Click here for a “Year 2012” blog with lots of links.
Click here for more artwork by Barbara McGunigal.