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Opinion Is this the end of the world as we know it?

For many people around the world, the end is near ... or at least they think it is. There have been many end-of-world predictions over the course of history sourced from both religious and non-religious beliefs. Just as recent as last year, it was predicted that the rapture was going to occur on May 21, 2011, and again on Oct. 21, 2011. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released an emergency preparation plan based on a Zombie Apocalypse to get people’s attention about emergency preparation for things like Super Storms, and we are just days away from one of the most famous and most imminent predictions: The end of the Mayan calendar on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012.

With the threat of doomsday looming, several theories support the claims of the end of civilization as we know it. The believers are divided into two groups: Those who think that the earth is about to be destroyed, and those who believe that Dec. 21 marks the end of one major time cycle and the beginning of a new and better one.

The idea of the 2012 apocalypse springs from stone inscriptions now housed at the Carlos Pellicer Cámara Regional Anthropology Museum in the Mexican city of Villahermosa. Discovered in the now-destroyed ruin called Tortuguero, the inscriptions were part of the dedication of a tomb or shrine at the site carved around the 7th century A.D., according to Maya scholar David Stuart of the University of Texas, author of “The Order of Days: The Maya World and the Truth About 2012.”

The Mayans calculated the great cycles of universal time as lasting 1,872,000 days. The Tortuguero monument inscription is interpreted by some to mean that the current time cycle will end after "13 baktuns" – roughly 5,000 years from its start date – which gives 2012 as the final year.

NASA released a post-21 December "told you so" video on Dec. 11, entitled "Why The World Didn't End Yesterday."

According to NASA, the only thing Dec. 21 marks, is the beginning of a winter solstice. The government agency further debunks the myth by stating, “Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after Dec. 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on Dec. 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.”

Those who do not buy into the Mayan Calendar ideology, but are still preparing for the world's end, are doing so because of the idea that a galactic alignment of all the planets is scheduled for Dec. 21, and will create chaos on Earth because of the gravitational effect between the Sun and the Black hole called Sagittarius A, which is located at the center of the galaxy.

According to NASA, the story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is barreling toward Earth and upon contact, will destroy life. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 -- hence the predicted doomsday date of Dec. 21, 2012. Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are products of an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, NASA stated that astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye.

Another theory of what might cause the world to spontaneously combust involves a “polar shift,” which means a reversal of the north and south magnetic poles. Scientists do believe that the Earth is overdue for a geomagnetic reversal. However, this can take up to 5,000 years to complete and does not start on any particular date.

Once again, according to NASA, this theory is just that, another theory. An apparent reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents, for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago, but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles. However, many of the disaster websites pull a baitand- switch to fool people. They claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth, which does change irregularly, with a magnetic reversal taking place every 400,000 years on average.

For skeptics who believe that as a government agency, NASA must keep things like the world's end hush hush to avoid complete chaos in the days leading to the event, professors and experts from all over the world have also spoken to the falseness of the claims.

We took to the Macon County News’ facebook page to ask what people thought, and from the comments that were posted, it seems people in Franklin did not buy into the hoax.

Shane Mayhorn joked, “I think the Mayans just got tired of making calendars.” While others pointed out biblical scripture that debunked the speculation. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. ~ Matthew 24:36,” cited Patti Halyburton Abel.

Local businesses have joined in on the theories in hopes of turning a profit, like Outdoor 76 which is having an “End of the World” sale or the “End of the World” party at Mulligans Bar and Grille.

I think it is safe to say that December 21 will come and go and the world in all its greatness will still be. With that being said, the Macon County News will be closed for the holiday season, with our first day back in the office being Dec. 31. Our next issue will be Jan. 3. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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