CLEVELAND - The biggest doomsday party of the century is set for six months from today, on Dec. 21, 2012. Where will you be?
Now that the summer solstice has passed, 2012 doomsdayers believe there are less than six months until The End Of The World As We Know It, aka: TEOTWAWKI, according to doomsday websites and blogs.
The end of days has been predicted often during human history. The Bible's Book of Revelation predicts it. Europeans expected the end of the world would come in the year 1000. We all remember Y2K. Then last year, American evangelist Harold Camping predicted doomsday would arrive May 21, 2011.
These dates all came and went.
This time, TEOTWAWKI talk is all about the Mayan calendar, specifically the Long Count calendar. If you know nothing about the Mayans, know this: their ability to map the heavens and keep time was astonishing. But one of their calendars simply ends on Dec. 21, 2012.
The Mayan culture thrived for six centuries before collapsing around 900 A.D., according to recent scholarship, because of a series of droughts and possibly warfare. Scholars readily admit the Mayans were sophisticated calendar makers and time keepers. But most scholars said the end date is bunk.
NASA explains the reason for the calendar's end this way: "Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then -- just as your calendar begins again on January 1 -- another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar."
Another NASA post on its website goes into much greater detail using the math about how the Mayans kept time. One part reads, "Just as we number our years counting from a historically and culturally significant event (the presumed birth year of Christ), Maya times were numbered from a date endowed with religious and cosmic significance: the creation date of the present world order. A Long Count date is the tally of days from that mythic startup."
In other words, if the Mayan Long Count calendar started from a "mythic startup" date, the end date is based on myth, as well.
But what about the party the writer described?
Even though scholars and professionals publicly debunk all of this doomsday 2012 talk as wild fantasy, there are people who still wonder.
Hollywood cashes in on that. In addition to the 2009 movie "2012", another end of the world flick opens in theaters Friday. It stars comedian Steve Carell and it's called, "Seeking a Friend For the End of the World."
But it probably won't be an asteroid or zombies or gigantic solar eruption. Some people seriously think the Mayan feathered serpent Kukulkan will emerge from the ground at the Chichen Itza ruins.
The pyramids were constructed so precisely that on the the spring and vernal equinoxes, the shadow of what appears to be a serpent falls to let the Mayans know it was time to either plant or harvest. (Kukulkan is similar to the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl).
That's one reason the Riviera Maya region is one of the top spots to party in the days leading up to Dec. 21, even though no such shadow appears at the site on the winter solstice. The sun, however, does appear to climb up the edge of the Temple of Kukulkan, until it rests momentarily directly above the temple.
Still others believe there are more clues to the mysterious Mayan calendar. For example, one recent archeological discovery in Guatemala shows calendars counting time thousands of years into the future.*
This writer believes all the hype around the date simply is another great reason to celebrate this mysterious existence we call life.
I'll be in the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan region for the party. The trip was booked months ago. Good thing. At the time all flights to Cancun, Mexico were almost full. Perhaps airlines have since added more flights. Also, moderately priced accommodations were sold out. So, I'll be living in a hut on Tulum's beach ahead of the big day. Not exactly the best protection from zombies or asteroid crashes.
And if I happen to see the feathered serpent, I'll snap a shot and upload it for you.
So, do you think the end is near? Leave a comment explaining why or why not below, or on our Facebook page.
*Updated 12:49 p.m.
NASA has another post on the date in great detail using Mayan math, here . (Mobile users, go here: http://1.usa.gov/3vc9f0)
There also is a website designed by a mix of professionals and amateurs, who wish to remain anonymous, to give specific reasons why the world will not end . (Mobile users, go here: http://www.2012hoax.org/)
For those people who just know TEOTWAWKI