Year 2012 Phenomenon: Some Myths Exposed
What does the year 2012 phenomenon have to do with luck? Well many will say nothing, but there are a small percent of people who believe in all the 2012 doomsday talk and website info heavily promoting terrible things slated to happen around December 21, 2012. So to be on the side of those few who think the bad 2012 predictions will come true then it is definitely good luck to survive it and bad luck to succumb to any of the so called disasters. Not being from the East I have no idea of how that part of the world takes the dire 2012 predictions. So far, here in California, Missouri, Colorado and Nevada, all of which I’ve been in recently, I have heard no mention of any 2012 predicted disasters from anyone.
The 2012 phenomenon comprises a range of eschatological beliefs according to which cataclysmic or transformative events will occur on December 21, 2012. This date is regarded as the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. Various astronomical alignments and numerological formula related to this date have been proposed.
A New Age interpretation of this transition is that this date marks the start of time in which Earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era. Others suggest that the 2012 date marks the end of the world or a similar catastrophe. Scenarios suggested for the end of the world include the arrival of the next solar maximum, or Earth’s collision with a black hole, passing asteroid or a planet called “Nibiru”.
Scholars from various disciplines have dismissed the idea of such cataclysmic events occurring in 2012. Professional Mayanist scholars state that predictions of impending doom are not found in any of the extant classic Maya accounts, and that the idea that the Long Count calendar “ends” in 2012 misrepresents Maya history and culture. Astronomers and other scientists have rejected the proposed events as pseudoscience, stating that they are contradicted by simple astronomical observations.
New Age Beliefs
Many assertions about the year 2012 form part of a collection of New Age beliefs about ancient Maya wisdom and spirituality. Archaeoastronomer Anthony Aveni says that while the idea of “balancing the cosmos” was prominent in ancient Maya literature, the 2012 phenomenon does not draw from those traditions. Instead, it is bound up with American concepts such as the New Age movement, millenarianism, and the belief in secret knowledge from distant times and places. Established themes found in 2012 literature include “suspicion towards mainstream Western culture,” the idea of spiritual evolution, and the possibility of leading the world into the New Age by individual example or by a group’s joined consciousness. The general intent of this literature is not to warn of impending doom but “to foster counter-cultural sympathies and eventually socio-political and ‘spiritual’ activism”. Aveni, who has studied New Age and SETI communities, describes 2012 narratives as the product of a “disconnected” society: “Unable to find spiritual answers to life’s big questions within ourselves, we turn outward to imagined entities that lie far off in space or time—entities that just might be in possession of superior knowledge.”
There is no significant astronomical event tied to the Long Count’s start date. However, its supposed end date has been tied to astronomical phenomena by esoteric, fringe, and New Age literature that places great significance on astrology. Chief among these is the concept of the “galactic alignment.”
In the Solar System, the planets and the Sun lie roughly within the same flat plane, known as the plane of the ecliptic. From our perspective on Earth, the ecliptic is the path taken by the Sun across the sky over the course of the year. The twelve constellations that line the ecliptic are known as the zodiac and, annually, the Sun passes through all of them in turn. Additionally, over time, the Sun’s annual cycle appears to recede very slowly backward by one degree every 72 years, or by one constellation every 2,160 years. This backward movement, called “precession”, is due to a slight wobble in the Earth’s axis as it spins, and can be compared to the way a spinning top wobbles as it slows down. Over the course of 25,800 years, a period often called a Great Year, the Sun completes a full, 360-degree backward circuit through the zodiac. In Western astrological traditions, precession is measured from the northern hemisphere’s spring equinox, or the point at which the Sun is exactly halfway between its lowest and highest points in the sky. Presently, the Sun’s spring equinox position is in the constellation Pisces and is moving back into Aquarius. This signals the end of one astrological age (the Age of Pisces) and the beginning of another (the Age of Aquarius).
Similarly, the Sun’s winter solstice position, its lowest point, is currently in the constellation of Sagittarius, one of two constellations in which the zodiac intersects with the Milky Way. Every year, on the winter solstice, the Sun and the Milky Way, from the surface of the Earth, appear to come into alignment, and every year, precession causes a slight shift in the Sun’s position in the Milky Way. Given that the Milky Way is between 10° and 20° wide, it takes between 700 and 1400 years for the Sun’s winter solstice position to precess through it. It is currently about halfway through the Milky Way, crossing the galactic equator.
Some proponents of doomsday in 2012 claim that a planet called Planet X, or Nibiru, will collide with or pass by Earth in that year. This idea, which has appeared in various forms since 1995, initially predicted Doomsday in May, 2003, but proponents later abandoned that date after it passed without incident. The idea originated from claims of channeling of alien beings and has been widely ridiculed. Astronomers have calculated that such an object so close to Earth would be visible to anyone looking up at the night sky.
10th Planet Discovered
Astronomers have found a new planet in the outer reaches of the solar system. It is NOT Nibiru. Temporarily it was called 2003 UB313 before it was given the name Eris. The concept of Planet X has been revived by a number of astronomers to explain anomalies observed in the outer Solar System. In popular culture, and even among some astronomers, Planet X has become a stand-in term for any undiscovered planet in the outer Solar System.
Click here to read the NASA News Release.
Pleiades and the Photon Belt
Also, the 2012 date has been loosely tied to the long-running concept of the Photon Belt, which predicts a form of interaction between Earth and Alcyone, the largest star of the Pleiades cluster. Critics have argued that photons cannot form belts, that the Pleiades, located more than 400 light years away, could have no effect on Earth, and that the Solar System, rather than getting closer to the Pleiades, is in fact moving farther away from them.
Another idea tied to 2012 involves a geomagnetic reversal (often incorrectly referred to as a pole shift), possibly triggered by a massive solar flare, that would release an energy equal to 100 billion atomic bombs. This belief is supposedly supported by observations that the Earth’s magnetic field is weakening, which could precede a reversal of the north and south magnetic poles.
Critics, however, claim that geomagnetic reversals take up to 7,000 years to complete, and do not start on any particular date. Furthermore, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now predicts that the solar maximum will peak in May 2013, not 2012, and that it will be fairly weak, with a below-average number of sunspots. In any case, there is no scientific evidence linking a solar maximum to a geomagnetic reversal, which is driven by forces entirely within the Earth. Instead, a solar maximum would be mostly notable for its effects on satellite and cellular phone communications. David Morrison attributes the rise of the solar storm idea to physicist and science popularizer Michio Kaku, who claimed in an interview with Fox News that a solar peak in 2012 could be disastrous for orbiting satellites.
The 2012 phenomenon has produced hundreds, if not thousands of books, as well as hundreds of thousands of websites. “Ask an Astrobiologist”, a NASA public outreach website, has received over 5000 questions from the public on the subject since 2007, some asking whether they should kill themselves, their children or their pets. Many contemporary fictional references to the year 2012 refer to December 21 as the day of a cataclysmic event, including the bestselling book of 2009, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.
The 2009 disaster film 2012 was inspired by the phenomenon, and advance promotion prior to its release included a stealth marketing campaign in which TV spots and websites from the fictional “Institute for Human Continuity” called on people to prepare for the end of the world. As these promotions did not mention the film itself, many viewers believed them to be real and contacted astronomers in panic. Although the campaign was heavily criticized, the film became one of the most successful of its year, grossing nearly $770 million worldwide.
Lars von Trier’s 2011 film Melancholia features a plot in which a planet emerges from behind the Sun onto a collision course with Earth. Announcing his company’s purchase of the film, the head of Magnolia Pictures said in a press release, “As the 2012 apocalypse is upon us, it is time to prepare for a cinematic last supper” making reference to the phenomenon.
The 2012 phenomenon has also inspired successful pop music hits such as “2012 (It Ain’t the End)” (2010) performed by Jay Sean and “Till the World Ends” (2011) performed by Britney Spears.
In 2011, the Mexico tourism board stated its intentions to use the year 2012, without its apocalyptic connotations, as a means to revive Mexico’s tourism industry, which had suffered as the country gained a reputation for drug wars and kidnapping. The initiative hopes to draw on the mystical appeal of the Mayan ruins.
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More about Year 2012 Phenomenon
The Year 2012
Neil deGrasse Tyson: World Will (Not) End in 2012
Here is a video by NASA’s David Morrison about the risks of disasters on earth in 2012.
The Truth about 2012 from NASA Lunar Science Institute on Vimeo.
NASA’s David Morrison, expert on Earth impact hazards and currently Interim Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute, speaks on what are the risk to Earth in 2012. He addresses misconceptions related to the year 2012, Earth crossing objects, planetary alignment, and related myths like Nibiru. More information on Dr. Morrison can be found at http://lunarscience.arc.nasa.gov/bios/david-morrison.
For more information on this topic, please see http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/ask-an-astrobiologist/intro/nibiru-and-doomsday-2012-questions-and-answers.
Hi, my name is David Morrison, I’m a space scientist at NASA Ames Research Center. For the last two years I’ve been answering hundreds of questions from the public about 2012 and the supposed threat to earth. And so now I want to take a chance to talk to some of you more directly.
There is no threat to earth in 2012. There is no danger. All of the talk about a doomsday is a big hoax perpetuated on the Internet and with people trying to make money. So please don’t worry about it. Let me talk about some of the specific things. There has been a lot of talk about a “Planet-x”, or a “Niburu” as a giant planet that’s going to hit the earth or at least come very close in December 2012. The simple fact is Nibiru does not exist.
Aside from worrying about the weird places, the ideas came from, all you have to do is ask the astronomers. If Nibiru or Planet-X were going to come into the inner solar system in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for the last decade. All over the world, amateur as well as professional. And it would be visible now to the naked eye. It’s not there. It’s a no-show. There’s nothing to worry about some object coming and striking the earth or damaging us.
There’s also been concern about a so-called galactic alignment. Because in December of every year the sun is roughly in the direction of the galactic center as seen from earth. This happens every year, it really does not mean anything, and there is nothing special about 2012. If you’re not worried about December 2009, don’t worry about December 2012. In fact, alignments, although it may sound scary to some people, are just not an issue for scientists. There are no special forces when planets align, or the sun aligns. It is sort of a curiosity, but not something of real scientific interest.
There’s also been concern that somehow the earth’s poles are going to flip. No one quite explains how this could happen, and if you’re talking about the rotation pole of the earth, that can’t change. It never has and it never will. Some people however are concerned about the change in the magnetic polarity. A shift of the north and south pole which does take place every few hundred thousand years. But there is no reason to think it will happen in 2012, and actually no evidence that it would do any harm to us, even if it did happen. Some people couple this with ideas of solar outbursts, of flares, or coronal mass ejections, which could do great damage to the earth. Well, the solar maximum takes place every 11 years, and occasionally there is some damage to satellites in orbit. And we see bright aurora or northern lights here, but very little real damage is done. And there’s no solar maximum predicted in 2012. The next solar maximum is predicted for the spring of 2013, and it’s actually anticipated that it will be much lower than usual.
Again, all this 2012 talk is just a hoax. It’s a fake. It’s nothing you should worry about. I get questions from many people who are really scared, even some young people who have said they are contemplating suicide, this sort of thing. It’s really sad. And the point of my talking to you now is just to explain to you that there is no problem there. And the many things you see on the Internet and Youtube where people claim that there is some horrible threat about to descend on us are not true. Don’t worry about 2012, and enjoy 2013 when it comes.
The Truth About Comet Elenin
Year 2012 NASA Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions people asked NASA about the catastrophes predicted for 2012.
2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won’t End?
Much like Y2K, 2012 has been analyzed and the science of the end of the Earth thoroughly studied. Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, the science behind the end of the world quickly unravels when pinned down to the 2012 timeline. Below, NASA Scientists answer several questions that we’re frequently asked regarding 2012.
Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.
Answer (A): Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.
Q: What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in 2012?
A: The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012. Then these two fables were linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 — hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.
Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012?
A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.
Q: Could phenomena occur where planets align in a way that impacts Earth?
A: There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades, Earth will not cross the galactic plane in 2012, and even if these alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be negligible. Each December the Earth and sun align with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy but that is an annual event of no consequence.
“There apparently is a great deal of interest in celestial bodies, and their locations and trajectories at the end of the calendar year 2012. Now, I for one love a good book or movie as much as the next guy. But the stuff flying around through cyberspace, TV and the movies is not based on science. There is even a fake NASA news release out there…” – Don Yeomans, NASA senior research scientist
Q: Is there a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Planet X or Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with widespread destruction?
A: Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles.
Q: What is the polar shift theory? Is it true that the earth’s crust does a 180-degree rotation around the core in a matter of days if not hours?
A: A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles. However, many of the disaster websites pull a bait-and-shift to fool people. They claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth, which does change irregularly, with a magnetic reversal taking place every 400,000 years on average. As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn’t cause any harm to life on Earth. A magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia, anyway.
› More about polar shift
The Blue Marble: Next GenerationEarth, as seen in the Blue Marble: Next Generation collection of images, showing the color of the planet’s surface in high resolution. This image shows South America from September 2004.
Q: Is the Earth in danger of being hit by a meteor in 2012?
A: The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today NASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. We have already determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs. All this work is done openly with the discoveries posted every day on the NASA NEO Program Office website, so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012.
Q: How do NASA scientists feel about claims of pending doomsday?
A: For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.
Q: Is there a danger from giant solar storms predicted for 2012?
A: Solar activity has a regular cycle, with peaks approximately every 11 years. Near these activity peaks, solar flares can cause some interruption of satellite communications, although engineers are learning how to build electronics that are protected against most solar storms. But there is no special risk associated with 2012. The next solar maximum will occur in the 2012-2014 time frame and is predicted to be an average solar cycle, no different than previous cycles throughout history.
Questions from Ask an Astrobiologist on NASA’s Astrobiology site
All the following questions have been deleted from the NASA site.
Click the above title to go to their site for more info on the topics below and many more.
Photon Belt Q&A
What do we know about the so-called Photon Belt? Are we…
Solar Storm Q&A
I know about Nibiru not coming but is there suppose to be a “Solar Storm’ in 2012 that could wipe out everything?? Dr. Michio Kaku has been saying…
Galactic Alignment Q&A
You said that the type of alignment that will happen in 2012 is not rare at all, but I found this…
Earth Castrophy Q&A
If there was something going to happen to our planet…
I read your answers on polar shift and they seem to me reasonable. But I have heard…
Next to the Moon I see a very bright object but it doesn’t move and glows white…
…But I wonder how you can claim that no such planet as Nibiru or Planet X exists?…
I’m tired of all the doomsday nonsense of 2012, comet elenin…
Scientists Credibility Q&A
…it seems scientists have an answer to everything and…