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ScienceCasts Why the World Didnt End Yesterday
music Why the World Didn't End Yesterday, presented by Science@NASA Dec. 22, 2012: If you're watching this tutorial, it means one thing: The World Didn't End Yesterday. According to media reports of an ancient Maya prophecy, the world was supposed to be destroyed on Dec. 21, 2012. But look around you. 'The whole thing was a misconception from the very beginning,'
says 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.' The truth, he says, is more interesting than fiction. Carlson is a hardnosed scientist a radio astronomer who earned his degree studying distant galaxies. He became interested in the 2012 phenomenon 35 years ago when he attended a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
and learned about the Maya. Where the rain forests of Mesoamerica now stand, a great civilization once flourished. The people of Maya society built vast cities with a population density comparable to modern Los Angeles County. They mastered astronomy and developed an elaborate written language. Most impressive, to Carlson, was their expansive sense of time.
'The times Mayas used dwarf those currently used by modern astronomers,' he explains. 'According to our science, the Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago. There are dates in Mayan ruins that stretch back a billion billion times farther than that.' The Maya Long Count Calendar was designed to keep track of such long intervals. 'It is the most complex calendar system ever developed.' Written using modern typography,
the Long Count Calendar resembles the odometer in a car. Because the digits rotate, the calendar can 'roll over' and repeat itself; this repetition is key to the 2012 phenomenon. According to Maya theology, the world was created 5125 years ago, on a date we would write 'August 11, 3114 BC.' At the time, the Maya calendar looked like this: 126.96.36.199.0
On Dec. 21, 2012, it is exactly the same: 188.8.131.52.0 In the language of Maya scholars, '13 Bak'tuns' elapsed between the two dates. This was a significant interval in Maya theology, but, stresses Carlson, not a destructive one. None of the thousands of ruins, tablets, and standing stones that archeologists have examined
The Mayan Calendar 2012
Hello time travelers and anyother people living in the future: If you're watching this,it means that the Maya, as they often are, were right. And Hollywood, as italmost always is when it comes to science, was wrong. INTRO I'm talking, of course,about the Mayan calendar, and the winter solstice of 2012.
As you've noticed, Hollywoodshysters, along with some cable TV people and a goodnumber of pseudoscientist authors are trying to convincethe world that maybe it's all going to endon December 21, 2012. The earth is going to split in twoor the poles are going to shift or house cats are goingto rise up against us and make us poop in boxes of sand. And they're all feeling that waybecause of a particular significance
that a particular ancientcivilization put on that very date. And if you're watching thistutorial after December 21, 2012. Well, you may have tofeel a little bit embarrassed about getting allweewee'd up about it. Now I'm not saying thatDecember 21st, 2012 isn't an important date in theMayan calendar, it certainly is. Don't panic! I can personallyguarantee that the world is not going to end on December 21st, 2012.
And here is just oneof the reasons why. It's not even that I don't believethat the world is going to end, it's that the Maya didn't. The Maya had lots of differentways of measuring time. And one of them wasespecially for measuring very long periods of time. Because unlike you and me who can't remember lifebefore Tomb Raider Underworld
the Maya had a reallylong view of time. And they measured it using what'scalled the Long Count Calendar. So check this out. The Maya called a day a k'in. Twenty of these k'ins, twentydays, were called a winal. Eighteen winals, or 360 days,made a tun, or about a year. Twenty tuns were known asa k'atun, or about 20 years. And twenty k'atuns make a b'ak'tun,
which amounted to about 144,000days, or about '4.26 years. The Maya used this system tocount the number of days since what they calledquot;the last creation.quot; Yeah, I said the last creation. Because the Maya believed that we are currently livingin the fourth creation. The first three, the godsscrewed up or whatever and they wanted to start over.