We’ve heard much discussion about the world ending on Friday, with some even going so far as to prepare for the end of days with food-and-water filled underground bunkers, but personally I’m not banking on it. And, for those of you who have put off your holiday shopping on the off-chance that December 21 is actually doomsday, Dr. Ian O’Neill of Discovery News says you should instead be planning a Doomsday party.
As our resident astrophysicist and space expert, Dr. O’Neill knows that Friday’s doomsday premonition is scientifically impossible and he actually thinks some of these end-of-days myths can be a bit dangerous. NASA recently cautioned that the Doomsday hype can actually have a damaging psychological effect, causing anxiety especially for children. Scientifically, there is no basis to any thought that we could be in for a solar flare or any other type of apocalyptic space event on Friday. For Earth’s ozone layer to experience damage from a supernova, the blast must occur less than 50 light-years away, and the nearest star that could possibly go supernova is much further away.
So why does the Mayan calendar end on December 21, 2012? The calendar simply ran out. Of their three calendars, the Long Count Calendar (the one that “runs out” on December 21, 2012 and has caused the Doomsday Drama) marked December 21, 2012 as the end of one long cycle of their calendar. The same way I will have to buy a new 2013 calendar to replace the adorable Westhighland Terrier 2012 calendar I have at my desk (they claim 365 days of cute, so I of course had to investigate), so would the Maya – this was less of a prophecy and more an administrative issue.
With this great news, I am thrilled to learn that I will be able to ring in 2013 with my family and friends with nary a doomsday in sight. So, you shouldn’t bother getting all hyped up for the end of the world on Friday, either – science says so.