Explained: Why the world didn't end in 2012

In a fascinating video, NASA corrects the confusion over Mayan calendar cycles and tells us what the date 12/21/2012 really means.

Breaking News: We're all still here, along with all the wonderful machines that enable us to do life-affirming things like connect to this here website.

But seriously, was there any doubt? [See Will the world really end in 2012? ]

Well, apparently the viral belief that a Mayan prophecy pinpointed today as the world's expiration date did end up stirring up a fair bit of unwarranted hysteria. Enough to force 30 schools in Michigan to close down for the Christmas Holiday ahead of schedule and for the Vatican to remind everyone to remain steadfast in their faith that everything was going to be all right.

Meanwhile, the scientific community opted to appeal to people's rational sensibilities as a way of reassuring the public that the end of days was still a ways off. Back in March, the nice folks at NASA produced a short video presentation pointing out the flawed logic behind various apocalyptic scenarios, such as the popular notion that a giant killer planet named Niburo was on course to destroy Earth.

And just to drive the point home, researchers have also prepared a little explainer video clip titled "Why the World Didn't End Yesterday," and slated for release on December 22nd as a subtle way of saying "I told you so." In it, an archeoastronomer breaks down how some misguided so-called experts had come to misread the meaning of Mayan calendar cycles and what the date 12/21/2012 really means.

The video is quite fascinating and worth a watch. And luckily, it didn't all go to waste.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com