Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

Summary: There's something vaguely disconcerting about using FOX News as a source of scientific information, but this one's just too good to pass up.

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There's something vaguely disconcerting about using FOX News as a source of scientific information, but this one's just too good to pass up. Apparently, the whole 2012 end-of-the-world thing might be, well, wrong.

I know. Most of us with a relatively formal analytical background don't believe the 2012 thing, anyway. We have a pretty good feeling that, other the inevitable disappointment about whoever's elected in the next Presidential election cycle, 2012 won't be the end of the world.

Even if your party doesn't get elected in 2012, or -- through some bizarre combination of luck and stage presence, Sarah Palin does -- it's still not going to be the end of the world.

But there are people out there who believe the Mayan calendar foretells the end of the world and that end will occur in the year 2012.

Oh, if only.

I'm going to have to spend that summer watching the Democratic and Republican conventions. If there's anything that's not fun, it's watching the monopoly party (that's the Dems, at least for another few weeks) try to justify how they lost the war. Or the Party-of-No (that's the Republicans) claim that their plan to give yet more tax cuts to billionaires will solve all of America's woes.

So, if the End. Of. The. World is going to hit, please (oh, please) make it before the conventions.

But I digress. And, okay, fine, I actually can't wait to watch the parties strut their stuff in an epic bipartisan display of utter and complete ineffectiveness. What can I say? I'm twisted that way.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Or, not.

Speaking of twisted, let's get back to this FOX News story.

Here's the thing: the end of the world might not exactly happen when we expect it to. The problem, according to UC Santa Barbara professor Geraldo Aldana, is that the 2012 date might not have been calculated properly in the first place. Apparently, the whole thing hinges on a GMT constant (and this isn't Greenwich Mean Time, this is the Goodman, Martinez, Thompson correlation, a numerical constant named after three scientists).

In any case, Aldana says everything about the 2012 date hinges on this Goodman, Martinez, Thompson correlation. The gotcha? Apparently the GMT constant may not be as rock solid as previously thought.

If that's true, the end of the world might not happen in 2012. Aldana doesn't know when it will happen -- or if it already did -- but he's pretty sure 2012 is the wrong date.

Personally, I think the end of the world ended on December 20, 2002. That's the day that Fox canceled Firefly.

See? Fox giveth and Fox taketh away. I guess that's fair and balanced. But, I'm sorry, end of the world or not, you can't take the sky from me.

Topics: Government, Banking, Government US

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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107 comments
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  • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

    Well said sir, well said
    Johoshua
    • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

      @Johoshua
      The World has already come to an end!
      The Mayans civilisation collasped ages ago so the calculations are very wrong.
      Off the threadmill
    • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

      What the author fails to mention is that the Mayans based their calendar on the stars above and that there are a total of only 7 cycles where the planets in our solar system come into perfect alignment. This is what is suppose to happen on Dec 21, 2012 that will cause the end of the world. It will be the last of the cycles (#7) to occur. If the dates are wrong, then the for sure way to ask NASA when the next total alignment of the planets will occur. Hint, they have already done this and it is Dec 21, 2010.

      Who knows though, maybe it meant the end of the world to them, super powers for the human race to develop (suggested possibility), and so on. Either way, never say never.
      userr123456789
      • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

        @userr123456789
        How very interesting! Thanks for this post.
        Pearl Nabi
  • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

    This would have been funnier if this story were actually reported by foxnews.com instead of just a Livescience.com report reproduced at foxnews' website. They put AP, Reuters, and AFP stories there too, you know.
    joeschmo1of3
  • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

    Personnaly, I think someone was short on ideas and reaching a deadline with his editor... =P
    galach
    • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

      @galach :)
      David Gewirtz
  • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

    The funny part is when you say "actually reported by foxnews.com "
    Alex_St
  • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

    The funny part is that it was reported that the 2012 date was wrong probably a good 6 months ago. Now its making its way through the news again.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

      @Loverock Davidson
      It scares me that you knew that Loverock
      914four
  • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

    Coast to Coast AM. That's the only reliable fringe news source. :)
    Bill4
  • Wow, David. You actually watch Fox News?

    Maybe there is a glimmer of hope for you yet.
    itpro_z
  • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

    My pet theory on 2012 was the programmer (calendar carver) asked the user (high priest) how far into the future to make the calendar, and he pulled a number out of the steamy jungle air and said "500 years ought to be enough. That will give them plenty of time to do an update". Not foreseen by the high priest during his review of the entrails was the arrival of the Spanish, and the update never got done. A long time later another user picks up the programmer's work, doesn't read the specs and assumptions, and draws an erroneous conclusion.
    EdKett
    • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

      @EdKett Awesome!
      paul.hinz@...
    • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

      @EdKett At least they knew better than to tie the functioning of the calendar to a battery on the mainboard that has a limited lifespan and warranty, unlike on my Powerbook.
      grassdogstudio
    • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

      @EdKett
      I like that one. I also like the idea of maybe the guy's arm just got tired.
      hoaxoner
      • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

        Everyone is missing the most important part of the entire article:

        "Personally, I think the end of the world ended on December 20, 2002. That?s the day that Fox canceled Firefly."
        cjs42
    • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

      @EdKett ROFL Awesome Dude!
      rcol4jc@...
    • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

      umm. <br><br>Mostly. <br>The Maya were pretty much just a memory when the insane ones arrived from Spain. My limited understanding is that the Maya, who enjoyed an immense and sophisticated civilization, self-disintegrated before the Aztecs arrived. (or had collapsed into chaos to the point that the Aztecs were opposed only by disorganized tribal groups.<br><br>The Maya self-destructed by over-farming the land with Pacific-to-Atlantic endless fields of corn. There was little or no forest left in Central America by the time the Mayan cities destroyed one another over continually shrinking supplies of farmable land. Simply put, lacking information about crop rotation and fertilization, they starved themselves to destruction because there were too many mouths to feed and too little land capable of growing sufficient crops remained. A story similar to that (probably) of Easter Island.<br><br>Then the Aztecs came wandering in from North-Central Mexico to mop up what little resistance remained. By then, most of the big cities had been abandoned as survivors left to try and grow a little food on whatever farmable scrap of land was left. <br><br>
      The Aztecs took ugly swampland and built it into fertile cropland, so this problem wasn't as serious for them. They took with them knowledge of fertilizing crops as they expanded.<br><br>It was the Aztecs who were wiped out by disease, by a huge coalition of their many local enemies, and by a religious prediction of their own end-of-the-world scenario, which happened to describe the Spaniards sort of, and fit the dates of the Spanish arrival. So the Aztecs never did whole-heartedly fight the Spanish. Most just gave up. <br><br>The whole Mayan calendar thing was amazing, and it extended throughout their entire culture. Many large stone temples were built in exact alignment with sun, moon and the larger planets. At least one of their temples had 365 steps. Another temple was built so that at the summer equinox, the shadow of a huge serpent appeared to be crawling up the stone steps to the heavens. <br><br><br><br>Many of these cities were abandoned by the time of the Aztecs.<br><br>So the 2012 date probably did not come about with a conversation between two men, but the way these things happen, it is entirely plausible that the 2012 ending date had nothing to do with predictions of the end of the world.<br><br>The 2012 date just might be as arbitrary as the range of dates on American Chinese restaurant paper place mats showing which years are of the horse, dog, or pig. <br><br>After all, you gotta begin it and end it someplace. . .
      rgathercoal@...
    • RE: Cancel your 2012 end-of-the-world party plans. The date could be all wrong.

      @EdKett Awesome! I think you should make a History channel show about your theory- :)
      unclefixer@...