Monday, November 9, 2009

This Calendar Weighs an EschaTon

Do you see the part where it says we'll all die on December 21, 2012? Mayan scholars don't see it either. Ancient Mayan glyphs and their concepts of language and time aren't fully understood by anyone, but no one who studies their ancient beliefs is under the impression that they ever forecast the end of anything other than various cycles of time. Like many cultures, the Mayans understood time as being cyclical, rather than linear. Hence, the round calendar. They had short counts of time within long counts of time, just as we do. One of the longest counts, the Baktun, ends on what some argue to be December 21, 2012, just like one of our long counts, the year, ends on December 31, 2009, and then starts over.

In this week's show, Seth and NASA Astrobiologist Dave Morrison discuss some of the unlikely harbingers that some say are the fulfillment of Mayan doomsday prophesy, including those postulated by the marketing campaign of a certain new disaster movie coming out this week.

Note: It has been pointed out that the picture above is an Aztec calendar. Of the many cultures that developed in the Yucatan region in the past three thousand years, the Maya were most instrumental in developing this calendar. The Aztecs just figured out how to make it look pretty.


Piya said...

This is what the doomsday prophets use for evidence that the Mayans predicted doomsday on 12/21/2012????!! This is not even Mayan!! This is the Aztec Sun Stone!!

terrence said...

Again a marvellous de-bunking skeptic-check program.Hollywood i,m afraid has a habit of this doomladen death and disaster moneymaking film-making.This Mayan end of the universe stuff has been doing the rounds for some while now.It really was only a matter of time before Hollywood got in on the act.Even jolly old Arnie tried it with his flop End of Days 1666-1999...remember that one.Dave is quite right though they shouldnt promote this as if it was actual scientific fact...the 2012 website is really quite scaremongering.I was told a few years ago in a throwaway conversation with a senior executive who works for Universal Studios that basicaly Hollywood ran outof original ideas for films donkeys years ago hence all the re-makes of re-makes and the hauling out of the dim and distant past of all the super-heroes of the 1940-50,s.He even told me that they will pay for anyone who can come up with a fairly original idea or format,you dont even have to write the script just a sketch of a few pages will do as long as it hasnt been done before.The turkey that eat New Orleans comes to mind....oh no that was done by that famous director S.Shostak wasnt it?.A great Hollywood talent lost to science instead...Wonderfull show Seth,keep it up

Ren said...

Sorry, guys, that's the AZTEC calendar you have up there. Different from the MAYAN calendar.

A common mistake, but one that would have never been forgiven by my teachers back in Mexico.