To say the Mayans were an odd lot may be a tiny bit of an understatement. One minute happily making major advances in mathematics and astronomy, the next casually ripping the still beating heart out a living child's chest to celebrate the new year, which is what I imagine a party in Rick Santorum's house might be like. But the Mayans will be all over the news this year, despite the fact the society collapsed sometime between around the 8th century. Why is this ? Because, the popular press will tell you, the super accurate ultra astronomer Mayans predicted the end of the world in December 2012! And you know, it was in that awful 2012 movie so there must be something to it! Exclamation mark!
|An entire movie based on John Cusak looking mildly annoyed about some CGI. I've ranted on it before..|
Only the Mayans said no such thing - not even anything sounding like it.The Mayan calendar was a little different to ours, rooted in base 20 (vigesimal) / base 18 calender. Before you have panicky flashbacks to logarithms and cry out loud "Dear God, MATHS! Why Dave, WHY?!" worry not, it's not too confusing - bases are simply the number to which you count before you start the cycle again; on a 12 hour clock it's 12, then back to 1. Our hour system is in base 24, our minute and second system in base 60, our week system in base 7, out month system in base 12 and so on - which, if you think about it, is kind of crazy. Anyway, the Mayans just used different bases. A b'ak'tun on the Mayan calendar corresponded to about 144,000 days or 394.3 years.
|All your base 12 are belong to us!|
Yup. That's it. The calendar will shift to a new b'ak'un. So didn't the Mayans predict widespread chaos, destruction, giant serpents made of fire firing around on hover boards with laser death rays ?
|Hoverboard and laser death ray out of shot|
So if the Mayans weren't predicting the end of the world, where did we get that nonsense from ?! That's a damn good question, and one that's not entirely clear to answer. The simple answer seems to be a total misunderstanding by the New age community in the late 1960s which became more and more reinforced since then with the publication of several books. I won't name these for fear of giving the authors more publicity than they deserve but Wikipedia, as usual, as a good article on it here.
So in short, you can relax... well, until the Earth is swallowed by the sun in about 5 billion years time...
|Let's see you make a movie about THAT John Cusak!|
- Asteroid collision
- Nuclear holocaust
- Total existence failure
- Republican presidency