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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The world is not ending and neither is the Mayan Calendar

But if it was, I'd want cake. Chocolate cake of course. All of it. Every last morsel.

However, since the end of the 13th Mayan bak'tun cycle really doesn't mean the end of the world, I'll settle for something a little lighter to eat. Christmas feasts are heavy, after all, and I have one on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas Day.

If the world was ending, I think I'd be slightly more panicked (read: a lot more panicked though there'd be nothing I could do about it). And probably wouldn't have done all my Christmas shopping.

So let's say the world was ending and you had only 1 hour notice (phones, internet, wifi all works, this is a what if scenario). Granted, most of us would find family members, cry, pray, possibly run into the streets screaming. But let's have fun with this.
Would you
A) Eat cake?
B) Call your ex?
C) Lay naked on ground?
D) Tell your customers/co-workers/fellow whoevers what you really think of them?
E) Think on what craziness you want to do for that entire hour and then have little to no time implementing said craziness?
F) Say yes to anything right in front of you at that moment?

NASA has prepared a press release for Dec. 22 titled "Why the World Didn't End Yesterday."
"The whole thing was a misconception from the very beginning," says Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy.  "The Maya calendar did not end on Dec. 21, 2012, and there were no Maya prophecies foretelling the end of the world on that date."

Mayan apocalypse: End of the world, or a new beginning?

Simon Martin is curator of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia's "Maya 2012" exhibition. He says the calendar is complex, and best thought of as a series of gear wheels. He points out that at a Mayan site in Palenque, Mexico, there is an inscription describing an event that takes place in 4,722 of our era, "and that is the turning of an even bigger cycle", he says.He adds that technically this is also not the start of a new cycle. In 3114 BCE the calendar reset to zero with the turning of the 13th bak'tun (which is a smaller, 400 year cycle). This time, however, it does not reset to zero but merely goes on to the 14th bak'tun. "The Mayan Calendar is a weird and wonderful thing," he says.

The Real Deal: How the Mayan Calendar Works
Three calendars
The first thing to understand is that the Maya used three different calendars. The first was the sacred calendar, or Tzolk'in, which lasted 260 days and then started over again, just as our 365-day calendar refreshes once it hits Dec. 31. This calendar was important for scheduling religious ceremonies.

The second calendar was the Haab', or secular calendar, which lasted 365 days but did not account for the extra quarter-day it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun. (The modern calendar accounts for this fraction by adding a day to February every four years, the reason we have leap years.) That means the calendar wandered a bit in relation to the seasons.

The final calendar was the Long Count Calendar -- the recording method that has caused all of the doomsday brouhaha of 2012. On Dec. 21 (approximately), the calendar completes a major cycle, which has triggered doomsday fears and mystical rumors about the end of an age

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