The world is not going to end on Dec 21st 2012 despite there being over 16 million google entries about it. Let me explain. The fifth cycle of the Mayan long count calendar will come to an end after 5,125 years on this date in 2012. This appears to have triggered speculation, along with prophecies in Revelations and by Nostradamus, about the end of the world and how it will come about.
The net is abound with linked theories of planet alignment, exceptional solar activity, magnetic flips, even a planet named Niburu, spotted in ancient times that, we are told, will collide with the earth in 2012.
This just goes to prove that we love stories of prophecy and doom, disaster stories that scare us and capture our imaginations. The idea that the Mayans might simply have a big party, wake up with the mother of all hangovers and flip over the page of the calendar as we do every Dec 31st and start again, doesn’t grip the imagination in quite the same way.
I came across all this on the net after I mentioned to my husband Rob that I was thinking of exploring the fantasy element of my Inca adventure story. He suggested I look up Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods. Von Daniken has a theory that much of ancient civilisation – the pyramids, Peru’s Nazca lines (and perhaps Inca cities), the Easter Island stone heads – could be attributed to ancient astronauts / aliens visiting earth. It’s an interesting theory. I’ve been to Machu Picchu and I was at a loss to explain how the Inca’s managed to fit those great stones together so perfectly in their buildings when they had no hard metals and they hadn’t invented the wheel. But with alien technology, all can be explained.
I got sidetracked from this to the Mayan calendar and 2012 and then, looking up parallel worlds, which I’m thinking of introducing in my book, I started looking at M theory. This has developed from Einstein’s Theory of Everything, through the Big Bang and String Theory, with scientists now thinking that there are 11 dimensions plus time and the universe is contained within a membrane. From what I can gather, the thinking is that our universe is in a giant bubble and the big bang could have been a collision with another bubble membrane, ie a parallel universe. This would mean that time existed before the Big Bang and there is, in fact, a multiverse.
Wow! Still trying to get my head around that lot.
I tell you, researching a book can lead you to some interesting places. And when your ear is attuned, you hear connected stuff. So on Radio 4 last week the astrophysicist Prof Jocelyn Bell Burnell was talking about none other than 2012 and the end of the world and was giving the Faraday lecture on that subject at the Royal Society later that week. So I went along. And it was she who reassured me that the world is not going to end next year.
There is no alignment of the planets in 2012. The last time that happened was in 2000 (no resulting disaster) and the next one is in 2040. Yes there will be extra solar activity when the sun’s magnetic field field reverses but that happens every 11 years. The earth’s magnetic field also ‘flips’ every 300,000 years and we’re long overdue such an event as it hasn’t flipped for 750,000 years. There are indications that it may have started but a ‘flip’ takes 5,000 years. The world will not stop or start spinning the other way.
All of the disaster scenarios, says Prof Bell Burnell, starts with a grain of scientific truth except the planet known as Niburu colliding with earth. That is a complete fiction. If the Sumerians had seen Niburu with the naked eye it would have to be gigantic and planets just aren’t made that big and, also, if it was on an orbit collision with Earth, Nasa would have spotted it by now.
All this was comforting but somehow disappointing. Not that I want the world to end but I was quite enjoying the stories and science so often pours cold water on the story and the mystery. But it is also comforting that when scientists set out to develop a theory of everything, it actually raises more questions and presents even greater mysteries. That, a writer can work with.