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2012 Mayan Calendar 'Doomsday' Date Might Be Wrong 144

Posted by samzenpus
from the 60-day-reprieve dept.
astroengine writes "A UC Santa Barbara associate professor is disputing the accuracy of the mesoamerican 'Long Count' calendar after highlighting several astronomical flaws in a correlation factor used to synchronize the ancient Mayan calendar with our modern Gregorian calendar. If proven to be correct, Gerardo Aldana may have nudged the infamous December 21, 2012 'End of the World' date out by at least 60 days. Unfortunately, even if the apocalypse is rescheduled, doomsday theorists will unlikely take note."

*

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2012 Mayan Calendar 'Doomsday' Date Might Be Wrong

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  • by eyenot (102141)

    There was news about this the year before last year. And according to somebody /else/, the estimated EOW date was off by over 4,000 years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kalidor (94097)

      Indeed, no one seems to be able to calculate this. When they first tried it came to sometime in 2013. Then it got moved to 2012 for about 15 years. Then for five it was 2013 again; but no one seemed to pay attention to that five years. Then as you said, they recalculated and found it to be off by 4,000.

      I strongly get the feeling that the people who work on this to make these publication tend to ignore most of the work before them and just fail to do any sanity checks with any developments on the subject sin

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      What I don't understand is, the mayan numerical system is positional (it has the equivalent of a zero); how could their calendar have an end date? Were they still alive today, they could have just added another position.

      • Re:Worse (Score:4, Informative)

        by thehostiles (1659283) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @03:10PM (#33950640)

        actually, they have a circular calendar. Just that most people don't quite get the concept that once it reaches their "last" date, it just goes back to the first date and keeps going.

        And the people who do get it are riddled with nutjobs that believe that a new age is upon us or something like that.

        I could care less unless the heiroglyphics depict fire reaining down upon the world... they don't do they?

      • by peragrin (659227)

        I always refer to it as the Mayan Y5K problem.

        their computers(real people) couldn't calculate beyond a certain point so that became the final end date. Just like Y2K. lazy programmers cause the world to burn.

      • Mayan prophecies refer to dates several thousand years farther in the future than the date at the end of the popular Mayan calendar. Basically, all that you need when the calendar rolls over is just adding another character or getting a bigger stone, and the Mayans didn't have to worry that they'd have to upgrade all their abacuses to Stone 2K compliance.

  • So then (Score:5, Funny)

    by acrobg (1175095) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:49PM (#33949332) Journal
    The apocalypse that won't happen Dec. 21, 2012 is now expected to not happen on Feb. 19, 2013...got it.
    • by PDX (412820)

      The actual transit through the center point of the galactic elliptic will take at least a decade. With plenty of fan fair even something ridiculous can seem plausible for a brief time. Until you actually look under the hood.

    • Re:So then (Score:5, Funny)

      by The Wooden Badger (540258) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @02:33PM (#33950038) Homepage Journal

      Actually it is a year earlier than previously thought. December 12, 2011 is when my daughter can get her driver's license.

      • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

        Actually it is a year earlier than previously thought. December 12, 2011 is when my daughter can get her driver's license.

        Is your daughter's name 'Sarah Connor' by any chance? Because if it is, I have a preprogrammed Austrian robot to send her for her birthday which may help us avoid or delay the Apocalypse. It speaks in a weird accent, but it IS a robot.

      • About driving a car, doomsday, and any date circa 2012 : one should mention the Peak Oil

        (even if instead of a sudden apocalyptic vision we have a decades long agony of energy shortage)

    • it won't happen on the thirteenth hour or of the thirteenth day of the thirteenth month of the thirteenth year.

      It's all for the best, who wants doomsday during that terrible Smarch weather anyway?
  • by geogob (569250) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:50PM (#33949356)

    Jan. 1, 2000, 00:00 GMT

    • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
      This was actually a claim that was circulating in some circles in the lead up to that date. See for example "01-01-00: The Novel of the Millennium" by R.J. Pineiro. Actually don't read it. It is stupid, awful and boring and makes Dan Brown seem smart, educated, and coherent. But the idea in question is used as a very major aspect of that novel.
    • I was sitting in my bunker with the cans of Spam and Twinkies ready for when humanity would be destroyed!
    • January 1, 1970 UTC is when the UNIX singularity happened.

      Other singularities:

      MS DOS - January 1, 1980

      AmigaOS - January 1, 1978

      Microsoft Excel - January 0, 1900 (That was a red-letter day, for sure!)

      OLE automation - midnight, 30 December 1899

      Win32 - January 1, 1601

      We're already in a post-singularity world, folks. Nothing to fear from the Mayan calendar that we haven't faced before.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:52PM (#33949364)

    December 21, 2012 is actually the Mayan "Year of the Linux Desktop."

    So enjoy your couple of months on top.

  • by snookerhog (1835110) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:54PM (#33949392)
    so this means another 60 days of total debauchery? cool
  • They predicted the end of the world, but not cell phones, breast implants or space shuttles?

    Not listed in order of importance obviously...

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @02:00PM (#33949494)

      They predicted the end of the world,

      If by they you mean the Maya, then, no, they didn't predict the end of the world.

      They had a calendar which has a cycle expire at a particular time. The assignment of the "end of the world" or similar apocalyptic significance to that cycle expiration is something that was done in the 20th Century by New Age writers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by UnknowingFool (672806)
        The Mayans had a Long Count calendar which was based on how many days since the day they believe creation started. They believed that this age was the fourth world and the fifth would start at the end of the Long Count. Now I'm not up to speed on the specifics but I don't think scholars have figured out what the Mayans thought would happen at the start of the fifth world. It might have been written down but the Spanish destroyed many Mayan texts labeling them as "heresy"
        • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @02:40PM (#33950154)

          The Mayans had a Long Count calendar which was based on how many days since the day they believe creation started.

          Correct.

          They believed that this age was the fourth world and the fifth would start at the end of the Long Count.

          The first half is correct. The Maya did believe that this was the fourth -- and only successful -- creation, that followed three prior, failed attempts at creation.

          The second half is less correct. First, the Long Count doesn't end (or at least not in the currently-expected lifetime of the universe and several orders of magnitude more; the abbreviated expression that was all that was needed to record current dates does 'run out', similar to the Y2K problem, but the Long Count has many higher positional cycles that were used in writing future dates, and occasionally used in writing current dates in ceremonial contexts.)

          Second, there is no evidence that the Maya expected the current creation to end at any particular time; and there are concrete indications (in the form of predictions of events in the current creation that did require the use of higher-order cycles) that if they did expect the current creation to end, it wasn't at the point where Long Count dates counted from the beginning of the current creation would begin to need to use the higher-order cycles that weren't conventionally used to express current dates.

          • by ljgshkg (1223086)
            In fact, decendent tribals had already repeatly say that it's just to restart of the calendar.
        • by cusco (717999)
          Bishop Landa proudly reported to the Vatican that he had destroyed over a million Mayan books. Most of the very few that still exist may have been picked up as souvenirs by the invading soldiers.
      •   I'm not sure what's worse; the silliness of the EOTW Mayan BS or the fact that people are still wasting valuable bandwidth posting about it ;-0

        SB

      • by Idbar (1034346)
        Yes, this was like the Engineer of the Mayans, which used limited resources to describe the calendar. Now that the resources are almost done (and since no other Mayan Engineer has been able to update the Y2012 bug), then everyone speculates about the mess that this is going to cause.

        I wonder if banks are still running on the Mayan calendar or if they updated, last time I checked the Gregorian one was poorly implemented and was about to break, like.. 11 years ago?
  • by formfeed (703859) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:58PM (#33949468)
    Pointing out that the end ( or roll-over) of a calendar system doesn't cause the world to end, would still not have prevented people from panicking.

    But now it turns out the date was off! Great news! Finally news anchors have a real story to report.

  • Old News (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is old news, and we've talked about this on slashdot before (i'm just not in the mood to dig for it)
  • Doesn't the date just mean that the calendar rolls from "age" of the Myan calendar to the next? Sure, it's the transition from one to another, but isn't it more psychological than anything? After all, other than lining many IS people's pockets, wasn't 2000 relatively uneventful?

    I partied like it was 1999, and I still had to go into work the following day....

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by evocarti (1731952)

      Transitions from one age to the next, especially in mythological terms, tend to be violent and filled with hardship.

    • Doesn't the date just mean that the calendar rolls from "age" of the Myan calendar to the next? Sure, it's the transition from one to another, but isn't it more psychological than anything? After all, other than lining many IS people's pockets, wasn't 2000 relatively uneventful?

      I partied like it was 1999, and I still had to go into work the following day....

      For starters, Y2K was a big issue, though not as big as everyone made it out to be. It wasn't like there was going to be a glitch and launch every nuke, it would have been more like being unable to use your bank account for a week. The reason it was relatively uneventful was the blood sweat and tears of your IS people, and yes they did get rich off it, but not without actually working on it.

      For the Ancient Mayans, this actually had signifigant effects on their culture, much like how we celebrate Christmas a

  • The Mayans never claimed to have predicted the end of the world... This is not majorly different than rolling over from December 31st to January 1st, except it happens less often.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @02:01PM (#33949518)

    In a way, the Mayans were correct. After all, whether the date is 2012 or 2013, the Maya did correctly predict that by that time the Maya would have no further need for a Mayan calendar.

  • What about the year 0 debate? did we even start it on time as well it can be like 1-5 years each way off as well.

  • The world goes tits up after October 31st 2010. It's just blank after that.

    Or I could just turn the page.

    • The world goes tits up after October 31st 2010. It's just blank after that.

      Or I could just turn the page.

      Europe "falls back" on 31/10/2010. I've experienced enough mishaps on DST-change days to gain a healthy respect for a baktun rollover.

  • by canajin56 (660655) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @02:06PM (#33949598)
    The most damning evidence against the "doomsday" is the fact that at least one Mayan king wrote about how he hoped people will still celebrate him in, then he gave a date, a date several thousand years after the end of the Mayan long calendar. So, did he not get the memo that the world would have been destroyed thousands of years before that date? Was he just oblivious? Seems contrary to assume he was clueless, since the only reason we think the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world is the assumption that they were all-knowing and all-seeing, by virtue of not being us.
  • The end will come in 5 Billion years from now when the Sun becomes a Red Giant. The Mayans were wayyy off.
    • by peragrin (659227)

      Nope we just miss translated 5 thousand years for 5 billion years..

      it could happen to anyone the US governement does it with tax money all the time.

      no big deal

  • I read that trolls and wizards will crawl out of their mothers' dungeons and lay waste to the world when Linux x32 calendar expires. Let's hope the Mayans' runs out first!

  • Doom sayers will just sue this as an excuse to get another 60 days worth of attention.

  • According to the math done after taking these new factors into consideration, the planned apocalypse will actually happen more or less in the next couple of sec
    • by mortonda (5175)

      Q: If you knew out the world was going to end in a few seconds, what are you doing posting on slashdot?!

  • it happened like this: the local calendar maker received a huge order for calendars going up to the year 25000 and he started making them but then after bunch he was like "nuts to this, i'm going for a beer" and he just so happened to leave off at dec 21 2012. the calendar maker never returned from his beer though...UNSOLVED MYSTERIES. i love that show.
  • January 19, 2038 03:14:08 GMT
  • 60 days? Really (Score:3, Insightful)

    by medv4380 (1604309) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @02:28PM (#33949964)
    Given that the calendar is based on the winter solstice and the rollover occurs on every winter solstice. The Gregorian calendar is flawed in tracking the solstice because it floats just enough because it's not based on a perfect solar year but it's close enough. 60 days off is kind of absurd since it would put it no were near the soltices or equinox that were used. I'd believe that they had the wrong year 2011 vs 2013 or 2012 but wrong astrological event? hardly
  • The US, after having been ravaged by nuclear war, will be caught on a power struggle between anarchy and an ultra-survivalist group, the Holnists. The only people who will be able to save us then will be Kevin Costner, Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, and president Richard Starkey. Also, Tom Petty will be the mayor of a town.
    • by treeves (963993)
      Richard Starkey (the one I've heard of) is not a natural-born US citizen, so...OK, let's not go there.
  • Well, I see it's time to start creating an out for when this latest bit of stupidity invariably proves to be wrong.
  • I had booked the great place for a wedding on the 23rd. I was afraid I would be hosed!

  • Dammit!

    It's going to be hard enough to keep them all virgins until the end of 2012. How am I supposed to convince them to wait longer?

  • Proof:
    1. * It is tomorrow in Australia (IDL [wikipedia.org] magic).
    2. * Australia is part of the world.
    3. * Therefore, the world exists tomorrow.
    4. * By induction, the world exists every day.

    Well...maybe this breaks at certain times of the day...

  • That sucks for these guys [2012ins.com]!

    I wonder if they'll honor the policy I bought for 12-21-2012 if the disaster is pushed 60 days!

  • I have a paper calendar in my house that stops at December 31. I knew things wouldn't last forever...
  • What the research is failing to recognize is that moving the date out 60 days or so prevents the end of the world date from being a base three number.

    12212012 in decimal is equal to 4271, which when represented as cents is almost but not quite completely unlike the answer 42.

  • Seeing that the Mayans could actually see the stars and watched the galactic center move through the sky, I find it hilarious that this conversation invokes so much debate. The average Mayan likely could have looked up at the night sky and gotten all the answers they needed. All these electric lights have spoiled our eyes. Starlight would be enough if we were accustomed to it.
  • Unfortunately, even if the apocalypse is rescheduled, doomsday theorists will unlikely take note

    At least not until after Dec 12, 2012

  • by joeyblades (785896) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @03:33PM (#33951112)
    Not the end of the planet, solar system, galaxy, universe, time or whatever is supposed to occur in 2012 (of course, those things will inevitably end, as well). However the inevitable end that I'm referring to is the end of a period of time that can be represented by a calender. I have never understood why the end of the Mayan calendar has to be the end of anything... I mean, The Dilbert calender on my desk ends on December 31st of this year... I wonder if I should attach any cosmic significance to that?
  • The leafs have not lost in regular time (1 OTL) and are in first place. Satan is buying winter coats and the Apocalypse is nigh.
  • Damn it!

    Every time a time gets pushed back it's a bad thing. I just want the date to come and go so that I can point and yell I told you so!

    Heck several people on another forum I visit are convinced that we are having a pole-reversal at that time. And I don't mean a magnetic pole-reversal (which is quasi-plausible) - I mean they actually think the damned planet is going to physically flip around backwards.

    • I was thinking about this earlier. I've heard serveral times that the 2012 date is wrong, yet it being in the past never seem to be a possibility.

      The world really started changing in many ways around the late 70's / early 80's.

      Hmmm.....did anything significant happen at that time...? :D
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:38PM (#33952546) Homepage Journal
    New calculations will push it further to April 1st, 2013
  • by Tablizer (95088)

    To know for sure, just bookmark LHC's schedule.

    • by Arimus (198136)

      Due to be offline in 2012 for budget reasons... so doubt we can blame the LHC.

  • Please, let's not give Roland Emmerich any justification for making a sequel.
  • Christmas is still on for 2012!! I need to start making my list.
  • Wasn't there a previous article that says ""2012" a Miscalculation; Actual Calendar Ends 2220" http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/10/26/1517242/2012-a-Miscalculation-Actual-Calendar-Ends-2220 [slashdot.org]

    Now it ends again!

    Quick, make another movie.

  • On a side note, Duke Nukem Forever's launch date was moved from Dec 22th 2012 by at least 60 days too.

  • Well given that the latest /. report had the end of the Mayan calendar re-calculated to 2220 [slashdot.org] I don't know what to believe any more.

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