Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Doomsday, Math, and Panic

Clean up, Jesus is Coming!
A week from Friday, I'm going to take whatever is left of my paycheque and buy myself a bucket of popcorn and a good thermos for hot tea so that I can sit at a busy thoroughfare and entertain myself with watching people hustle around like frightened roaches, trying to find the nearest cover while the sky is proverbially falling on them again.

Then, while they all complain the next morning about the world not really coming to an end, I'm going to wake up in the smug self-satisfaction of knowing I may well be the only of my friends who is not hung-over.

If you've been living under a rock for the last half-decade or so, there's been rumours abounding about the auspicious date of 21 December, 2012, due to some anthropologist or another back-calculating the Mayan calendar and figuring out that the long-count calendar's enormous span ended its cycle on that date. Since then I've had to put up with stories of all levels of ridiculous events to expect on that day (in fact, the only event I haven't heard associated with it yet is the Second Coming).

If the world was ending,
would I really be wasting time
so far away?
Now, the Long Count Calendar is a mathematically beautiful thing, and walking it forward through our own several calendar systems used since then is an impressive achievement, not so much for its complexity, but for the discipline it would take to sit there and perform the necessary calculations. But, there's something really important to know about calendars... they are all cyclic.

Now, I know, neither the Julian Calendar nor the earlier Gregorian have start or end points... they don't them. There's no eras to count (except the before/after date of the year Zero), of course, but the dates cycle quite predictably over a number of interesting patterns. If you know these patterns, it's even possible to work out what date the fourth Tuesday in April of 2063 will be - the twenty-fourth, if you're curious - but the fact remains that they are there.

They have been there in any successful calendar for measuring a period of time longer than a human life span... and when you get to the end of the calendar, you start over again at the beginning.

There's no astronomically significant events looming on the horizon, no significant signs of a climatological crisis, and, barring utterly unpredictable events like Global Nuclear War caused by someone sneezing too loudly in a control room somewhere in China, no reason to assume the world is ending.


  1. sometimes, don't you just feel that there is no hope for humanity based on all the nasty things that humans just do it cuz they want to, and they had better be off eliminated? Lol.

    1. Yeah, but then I drink a cup of tea, take my meds, and curl up on the couch to watch my Betta be a tard.

      Somewhere between the caffine, the immepramine, and the schadenfreude, I feel better.