Is 2012 the End of the World?

Now that we are past the 2011 winter solstice and entering into the year 2012, according to some we in the last year before the world comes to an end on the next winter solstice. Their evidence is based on their interpretation of a Mayan prophecy, unearthed in the 1960s. The date supposedly marks the end of the Mayan calendar.

Associated with this now modern prediction of Doomsday on December 2012, is the prediction of the return of a rogue planet Nibiru after a close encounter with Earth 3,600 years ago. This planet is large, maybe four times the size of earth. This time, they say, it is coming to finish us off for good.

We can squash this last prediction very easily. If this planet were going to hit us in 2012, it would be already in the solar system within telescopic sight. Some web sites claimed it would be visible to the naked eye by spring 2009. Why hasn’t anyone mentioned seeing it yet? The answer from the alarmist is the hoary old “government conspiracy” theory. “They” aren’t telling us, so we won’t panic. This is so ridiculous that it’s laughable. The United States government could hardly keep every astronomer in the world quiet, let alone the thousands of amateur astronomers around the world.

The idea that the Mayan calendar predicts this dire event is also nonsensical. To the Maya, the end of a cycle and the start of a new one was the cause of celebration – a far cry from the doomsday idea. Besides, archaeology shows that the Mayans also recorded dates for after the supposed apocalypse.

Our Mayan “doomsday” was originally predicted for May 2003, but since that date passed without astronomical incidence, the date has now been recalculated to the winter solstice of 2012. Doesn’t this remind you of religious predictions of the “rapture”, such as those recent misfires by Harold Camping of Christian radio? When it doesn’t happen on one day, “recalculate” and set another date. (Camping got some sense after his last failure because he is not going to make anymore predictions.)

Nibiru is a name that appears in the Babylonian poem Enuma Elish. It is associated with the god Marduk. Scholars are not sure what Nibiru is or what it may refer to. Marduk is the god that corresponds to Zeus or Jupiter. In planetary terms, Marduk is the planet Jupiter. I for one am prepared to accept the planetary nature of Nibiru, but it is not an unknown planet. Nibiru is the planet Venus, whom the Greeks associated with Athena (not Aphrodite, who was the goddess of the moon). Recall that in Greek mythology, Athena sprang from the forehead of Zeus. The planets Venus and Jupiter are therefore closely linked. We have the same association with Nibiru and Marduk. If Nibiru is a planet, it is the planet Venus, now safe in its inner orbit around the sun.

(Some parts of this post originally appeared in November 2009, under “2012: A Space Idiocy (but a Movie to See”).)