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"2012" a Miscalculation; Actual Calendar Ends 2220 600

Posted by samzenpus
from the lost-in-translation dept.
boombaard writes "News is spreading quickly here that scientists writing in a popular science periodical (Dutch) have debunked the 2012 date (google translation linked) featuring so prominently in doomsday predictions/speculation across the web. On 2012-12-21, the sun will appear where you would normally be able to see the 'galactic equator' of the Milky Way; an occurrence deemed special because it happens 'only' once every 25.800 years, on the winter solstice. However, even if you ignore the fact that there is no actual galactic equator, just an observed one, and that the visual effect is pretty much the same for an entire decade surrounding that date, there are major problems with the way the Maya Calendar is being read by doomsday prophets." I wonder what Amazon's return policy on a box full of 3 doomsday wolves shirts is?

*

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"2012" a Miscalculation; Actual Calendar Ends 2220

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  • Actually... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kirin Fenrir (1001780) on Monday October 26, 2009 @02:59PM (#29875625)
    That's just what they want you to think.
  • Re:Date divider (Score:3, Informative)

    by richdun (672214) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:09PM (#29875761)
    Probably an error in your European to American numerical translator - that should have been 25,800 years.
  • by captaindomon (870655) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:10PM (#29875769)
    Wait a minute, how do you "debunk" a myth or religious belief? The only way to "debunk" it is to wait until Dec 13th and then say, "See, the world didn't end afterall." Even that approach can run into problems with myths and religious beliefs "No, it DID happen, but it was a SPIRITUAL end to the world" etc. etc. This approach is the same as a religious leader "Proving" a scientific theorem based on revelation. These are different structures for argument, folks, and they can't be interchanged that way.
  • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:12PM (#29875797) Homepage
    The Mayans actually had dates carved into stylae which took place long, long after 2012. For example:

    For example, on the west panel at the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque, a section of the text projects into the future to the 80th Calendar Round (CR) 'anniversary' of the famous Palenque ruler K'inich Janaab' Pakal's accession to the throne (Pakal's accession occurred on a Calendar Round date 5 Lamat 1 Mol, at Long Count 9.9.2.4.8 equivalent to 27 July 615 CE).[12] It does this by commencing with Pakal's birthdate 9.8.9.13.0 8 Ajaw 13 Pop (24 March 603 CE) and adding to it the Distance Number 10.11.10.5.8.[13] This calculation arrives at the 80th Calendar Round since his accession, a day that also has a CR date of 5 Lamat 1 Mol, but which lies over 4,000 years in the future from Pakal's time--the day 21 October in the year 4772. The inscription notes that this day would fall eight days after the completion of the 1st piktun [since the creation or zero date of the Long Count system], where the piktun is the next-highest order above the b'ak'tun in the Long Count. If the completion date of that piktun--13 October 4772--were to be written out in Long Count notation, it could be represented as 1.0.0.0.0.0. The 80th CR anniversary date, eight days later, would be 1.0.0.0.0.8 5 Lamat 1 Mol.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerican_Long_Count_calendar#2012_and_the_Long_Count [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:No boom today... (Score:5, Informative)

    by sajuuk (1371145) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:20PM (#29875897)
    No boom today. And Ivanova is God. Trust Ivanova, trust yourself. Everyone else, shoot em.
  • Re:Damn (Score:5, Informative)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:21PM (#29875911) Journal

    Sigh. As if they've never read or understood the verses in Mark 13:31, 32?

    Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    There are plenty of other passages to the same effect. They've read them, of course. They just conveniently ignore them.

  • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:24PM (#29875955) Homepage
    Okay, here's the short version: The Mayans didn't believe the end of the world would happen in 2012 or 2220 because they had a date carved into stone which would happen over 2000 years from now. It's THEIR calendar and even THEY didn't believe the end of the world nonsense.
  • Re:Assuming... (Score:3, Informative)

    by AresTheImpaler (570208) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:36PM (#29876103)
    There's not exactly a Mayan Rosetta Stone so even all that we know about the language is still premature

    This is not entirely correct, as there are still Mayan speaking persons in south mexico. (I bet there's also several in Guatemala). By the way, I had a teacher in HS that has mayan blood in his veins. His brothers (that still live in mexico) published a mayan-spanish dictionary in the 90's.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:38PM (#29876131)

    It's not exactly right to say it's like the end of a year calendar. But the Western/Roman date system does have a similar date: January 1, 0 AD. The Mayan calendar was about predicting the end of an age, of an era, not the world. If memory serves, the Mayans believed that there were 5 or 6 periods of ~25,000 from "the beginning" to "the end" and I think 2012 (or whatever) is meant to be the beginning of the 4th or 5th.

    Even if you wanted to go out on the crazy limb and assign some sort of mystical significance to 12-21-2012, it prolly would be something equivalent to the birth of Christ or founding of Islam or the 10 Commandments or whatever that other calendars have that really weren't a big deal to most people in the world at the time.

    Or maybe the Rapture'll happen. That'd be kinda funny.

  • by Xoc-S (645831) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:38PM (#29876133)
    The most commonly used correlation of the Gregorian Calendar and the Maya Calendar is the GMT correlation, after Goodwin, Martinez, Thompson, the main proponents. In this correlation, December 21, 2012 will be the end of the 13th Baktun. The only other correlation used by any but fringe scholars places the end of the 13th Baktun two days later on December 23rd. These guys are proposing a new correlation because of some reading of the Venus pages in the Dresden Codex. However. as has been known since at least the 1950s the Venus pages work exactly right with the GMT correlation, so these guys are just wrong about their correlation.

    The reason for all the hoopla about 2012, is that in the Maya Calendar, the last creation ended on a 13th Baktun. The lunatics suppose that since the last creation ended on a 13th Baktun, the Maya supposed that this creation would also end after 13 Baktuns, but there is no evidence that the Maya had any such beliefs. There is a date on the West Panel of the Temple of Inscriptions from Palenque that refers to an anniversary of the crowning of the king, Pacal, that makes it quite obvious that the Maya believed that there was a 14th through 20th Baktun.

    So, in summary, these guys are wrong about the new correlation, and all the 2012 nutjobs are wrong about even the Maya believing that 2012 was the end of this creation. For more information, see the presentation on the FAMSI (Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies) web site by Mark Van Stone that fully details what is known and what is true about Maya beliefs about 2012. http://www.famsi.org/research/vanstone/2012/index.html [famsi.org]

  • Re:Assuming... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:48PM (#29876225)

    Nor did they disappear. Mayans can still be found on any day on the Yucatan peninsula selling hammocks, fixing cars, running banks, building roads and so on. A little tour outside of Merida will show you people still living in sturdy houses made entirely of native materials. The Mayans, although occupied, are still largely alive and well.

  • Re:Assuming... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jeffasselin (566598) <cormacolinde@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:49PM (#29876243) Journal

    There are people that speak something that descends from the mayan language, correct. That doesn't help us much in deciphering the written version of the language in hieroglyphics.

  • by eln (21727) on Monday October 26, 2009 @03:55PM (#29876321) Homepage
    Pretty much all of the so-called "educational" channels have degenerated into non-stop conspiracy factories, showing garbage like "Decoding the Da Vinci Code", Nostradamus prophecies, and nonsense about ghosts around the clock. The History Channel, which had already degenerated into the Hitler Channel, is now more like the "Conspiracies about Hitler and the Occult" channel. Discovery's entire family of networks is bad too...there's something seriously wrong when the most educational show a so-called educational channel has is Mythbusters.
  • Re:Assuming... (Score:3, Informative)

    by GlassHeart (579618) on Monday October 26, 2009 @04:08PM (#29876491) Journal

    There's not exactly a Mayan Rosetta Stone so even all that we know about the language is still premature.

    My understanding is that much of the Maya glyphs have been decoded. Check out the rather fascinating PBS program Cracking the Maya Code [pbs.org] for details.

  • Re:Assuming... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday October 26, 2009 @04:15PM (#29876583) Journal

    We can go ahead and blame the Spanish for that. There are only 3 books containing Mayan Text still around today, all the rest were burned because they could contain "Heresay" (No one bothered to translate. Burn first ask questions later).

    All of our calendars, even modern day ones, are just based off of Astrological occurences. We use 365 days for our Calendar because thats how long it takes the Earth to rotate around the sun. What if we decided to use different Stars and not the Sun?

    Well basically the Mayan Calendar does this - They just use alot positions of Constellations to determine where they are in their cycle.

    And as an educative side note: Without knowing yesterdays, todays, or tomorrows date, the current day of the week, Month of the year, or what year it currently is, one could still find out the date by simply measuring the stars position, and knowing the movement of the stars, and knowing what the sky looked like on ONE other night, and knowing the date that other night is occuring on. Time should be pretty precise too, as the stars move. It's fun to calculate what the sky will look like 3 months from now, and then see how accurate you are (with a bit of research)

  • Re:Assuming... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Monday October 26, 2009 @04:46PM (#29877097)

    When the Spaniards arrived, all codices and other writings containing any Mayan text were destroyed. The only real surviving literary text survives as a Spanish translation of a book called the Popol Vu [wikipedia.org], "Governing Book", (I speak a Mayan dialect, Q'eqchi'). The Wikipedia article there translates it as "Book of the Mat", which is a correct literal translation, but loses any contextual meaning. The root word 'pop' is indeed 'mat', but 'popal' has reference to the chief governing body of the people.

    At any rate, to answer your question, all Mayan dialects have long since been Romanized, but it has only been in recent years (ten, perhaps) that efforts have been made to standardize the lithography across dialects.

    It is interesting to note that the Christian conversion of the Mayan people brought about some surprising abnormalities (or outright perversions) in the spoken language itself. Even amongst the most pure speakers of Mayan dialects, Spanish has left its indelible mark. Take for example the word for 'people' in Q'eqchi': kristiaan. Any Spanish speaker would recognize the transliteration of that word as 'cristiano'. Therefore, in a very subtle way, you are not a person or a group of people unless you are in fact Christian. Crazy, huh?

  • by Phrogman (80473) on Monday October 26, 2009 @05:21PM (#29877619) Homepage

    According to Wikipedia at least:
    "Progress in decipherment continues at a rapid pace today, and it is generally agreed by scholars that over 90 percent of the Maya texts can now be read with reasonable accuracy."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_script [wikipedia.org]

    Its not as evolved as our understanding of Egyptian perhaps but its well on its way. As far as I recall the Mayan languages spoken by present day Maya have not changed a lot either and thus would be of substantial help in deciphering the scripts.

  • Re:Amateurs (Score:3, Informative)

    by ozbird (127571) on Monday October 26, 2009 @05:40PM (#29877911)

    The most recent cycle transition was in year 2000 (which was a leap year when it otherwise wouldn't have been).

    Just to be extra pedantic, the year 2000 was always going to be a leap year in the Gregorian calendar.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday October 26, 2009 @06:59PM (#29878741)

    It's excellent... when they're not showing programs about dog training or rescuing, which is about 5% of the time.

  • Re:Damn (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 26, 2009 @07:16PM (#29878863)

    We don't ignore them, we address them. If you would sit down and listen long enough for a knowledgeable Christian to explain these "contradictions" then you would see they're not actually contradictions at all.

  • by X3J11 (791922) on Monday October 26, 2009 @07:18PM (#29878893) Journal

    Wow, your post is of the few times Godwin's Law has been invoked for a valid point rather than a blatant troll...

    Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 which has become an Internet adage. It states: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." The term Godwin's law can also refer to the tradition that whoever makes such a comparison is said to "lose" the debate.

    One does not "invoke" Godwin's law, and no comparison to Nazis was made.

    Yes, I have too much spare time.

  • Re:Assuming... (Score:4, Informative)

    by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Monday October 26, 2009 @07:36PM (#29879073) Homepage Journal

    And not the first circle, but the 13th: from http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4093 [skeptoid.com]

    Mayans had three calendars. They had a solar calendar that was 365 days long, and a ceremonial calendar that was 260 days long. These two calendars would synchronize every 52 years. To measure longer time periods, they developed the "long count" calendar, which expressed dates as a series of five numbers, each less than twenty; something like the way we measure minutes and seconds as a series of two numbers each less than sixty. And, just in case this might seem too simple, for some reason the second to last number was always less than eighteen. The first day in the Mayan long count calendar was expressed as 0.0.0.0.0, and by our calendar, this was August 11, 3114 BC. Every 144,000 days (or about every 395 years, which they called a baktun), the first number would increment, and a new baktun would start. Recall how we all got to enjoy the excitement on the millennium of watching the digital displays roll over from 12/31/1999 to 1/1/2000? Well, that's what's going to happen on December 21, 2012 to the Mayan calendar. It's going to roll over from 12.19.19.17.19 to 13.0.0.0.0, just as it has done each of the previous twelve baktuns. There's no archaeological or historical evidence that the Mayans themselves expected anything other than a New Year's Eve party to happen on this date: Claims that this rollover represents a Mayan prediction of the end of the world appear to be a modern pop-culture invention. It's true that the Mayan carvings of their calendar only depicted 13 baktuns, but what did you expect them to do? Carve an infinitely long calendar every time they wanted to express a date?

  • Re:Assuming... (Score:4, Informative)

    by siride (974284) on Monday October 26, 2009 @08:24PM (#29879463)

    English is as old as any other language. If you are going to talk about when it split off from the other Germanic dialects, it probably did that before the Romance languages became non-trivially distinct from each other.

    For any Western European language that I can think of, sending speakers back 800 or 1000 years would result in unintelligibility. Italian and Spanish probably wouldn't be as bad as French and English, but those languages have changed a lot too, and certainly compared to Latin. Same thing with German and the Slavic Languages.

    The reason Chinese can still be read is because it is an ideographic system and the orthography is conservative. This is also why we can read Shakespeare and Chaucer, even though both sounded considerably different from Modern English. It's not that Chinese hasn't changed -- it's changed a lot -- but that the writing system hasn't.

    Your Greek example is also bad because Greek has undergone a great deal of phonetic change since the Classical Greek days (and there wasn't even one language called "Classical Greek" -- there were a variety of more and less mutually intelligible dialects) and some grammatical changes. It lost the dative case and significantly reduced the morphological distinctiveness of the case endings. The entire set of perfect tenses was built anew with auxiliary verbs. It also simplified the accent system to move away from a pitch-based accent and towards a stress-based accent. I can go on and on. It's definitely changed a great deal.

    But honestly, you can go and read Old English pretty easily if you take a short amount of time to go over how the letters are pronounced, a few of the correspondences in sounds between Old and Modern English and a quick run through of the fact that there are cases and other verb forms. It's not significantly different from Modern English, even though at first glance it looks insane. The biggest difference is probably vocabulary, but if you know German, you'll find that even that isn't too much of a hurdle.

  • Re:Assuming... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 26, 2009 @10:07PM (#29880101)
    Not as much in Canada, except for the food products manufactured in the US and imported here. Basically it all has to do with the corn-growing subsidies put in place during the Cuban revolution to ensure a source of US sugar despite the embargo on Cuban sugar cane juice. Canada produces sucrose from sugar beet instead and doesn't have the same level of corn subsidies. Since then, large agri-business like Archer Daniels Midland got rich off the subsidies, and started peddling HFCS with subsidized prices to food processors as an additive to encourage consumption. So the obesity epidemic (and, coming soon, diabetes epidemic) in the US is in large part due to policies started in the Cuban revolution and the Cold War, and since perpetuated through lobbying by existing commercial interests (i.e. greed).
  • Re:Damn (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:29AM (#29882939)

    Wine is never a symbol of blood in Judaism. It is always a symbol of joy and happiness. We spill drops of wine while reading the names of the ten plagues, not because blood was spilled during them, but because our happiness is diminished knowing that people had to die for us to get our freedom. The "blood sprinkled on the doorposts" is partially represented by the shank bone on the Sedar plate (lamb sacrifice which we no longer do) and partially by the mezuzahs on our doorposts.

    The idea that wine = blood in Judaism comes from Christian groups (to whom wine did represent the blood of Christ) and from the blood libels where Jews were accused of kidnapping kids, slaughtering them, and turning their blood into their (the Jews') wine. Of course, this is an outright lie. The truth of the matter is that Judaism forbids consuming blood. That is why kosher meat is salted and soaked (to remove any blood in it).

  • Re:Damn (Score:3, Informative)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:51AM (#29883171) Journal

    Thanks for the correction. So basically Jesus totally re-appropriated the symbolism of wine and said it represented his blood.

    Reading the wiki on "Passover" further, there were 4 cups of wine, one of which represented the Exodus, which is the closest I can come to claiming my statement was anywhere close to being correct. The other three were various blessings and prayers.

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

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