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Just days remaining until end of world?

Believers of Mayan prophecy count down remaining days

December 6, 2012

By Kelsey Smith

You may not have heard, but according to some ancient prophecies circulating in social media, the world will cease to exist on Dec. 21, 2012.

Arguably the most referenced of the 2012 apocalyptic prophecies is that of the Mayans.

About 3,000 years ago, the Mayans were a civilization with advanced mathematical and astrological knowledge living in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. They developed between 15 and 20 calendars, each with a specific purpose. Because the Mayans were a very logical society, they had a calendar for crop cultivation, one that followed the cycles of the sun, and, of course, one that counted the days until the end of the world.

This calendar is known as the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, and it calculates a period of time called the Great Cycle, which lasts about 5,125 years. When scholars matched up the dates of the Long Count calendar with the Gregorian calendar, they found that the Great Cycle began Aug. 13, 3114 B.C.E. and ends this year on Dec. 21.

Since this date happens to be the same as that of the winter solstice, believers think the sun will align with the center of the Milky Way galaxy, causing a shift in the Earth’s poles. This will cause every natural disaster possible to occur and the planet will no longer be able to function.

However, it is not known why so many people think the Mayans were able to predict the apocalypse. There is no way of proving they were a people with psychic abilities, and perhaps they figured that 2012 was far enough in the future that they didn’t need to worry about adding more dates.

Another often cited prophecy is the prediction of Nostradamus.

In 1982, a never before seen work of Nostradamus’ was discovered in Rome. Throughout this book, there is the repeated image of an eight-spoke wheel. Allegedly, this wheel represents the intersection of the Divine Cross and the Terrestrial Cross. The two crosses are only aligned once every 13,000 years, with the next alignment being, you guessed it, this year. The book also features images of three solar eclipses followed by a lunar eclipse, believed to result in a great flood.

Many regard Nostradamus as a great prophesier. However, many fail to realize he was an apothecary who spent his time concocting herbal remedies and making predictions for the future. So why are we quick to assume he wasn’t tripping on drugs? His predictions were written in a poetic style and are left open to the interpretation of whoever is reading it.

Whether or not there’s any truth to these predictions, many people do believe that the Earth may only exist for a couple more weeks. There are dozens of websites for those who subscribe to the idea that the apocalypse is upon us, people who are also referred to as “preppers." These sites include information regarding what supplies people will need when the world does end and how to build an apocalypse-safe shelter (they recommend building an underground bunker or using steel shipping containers).

The recent news of Hostess going bankrupt and the inevitable extinction of Twinkies seems to have some people considering that there may be something to the end of the world theories.

Many have taken to Facebook and Twitter posting similar sentiments, like “So Twinkies, which were supposed to survive a nuclear holocaust, die three weeks before the end of the world? Maybe the Mayans were right,” and “Twinkies are now selling for $5,000 on EBay, I’m starting to think there might be something to this 2012 theory.”

Due to the popularity of these theories online, scholars and experts are working hard to debunk the ideas. NASA, for example, has received many questions concerning the end of the world, they were forced to put extensive material about it on the Frequently Asked Questions page of their website. Discovery Channel and National Geographic have put similar information on their websites as well and will be airing several television programs about the phenomenon.

While it’s apparent that people are fascinated by the prospect that the world could be ending in a matter of days, it may be more interesting to see the reaction of the preppers when Dec. 21 is just like any other day, and they realize they wasted their life savings on an apocalypse-proof shelter.

Photo courtesy mayan-calendar.com