The Mayan Long Count calendar, dating back to at least the 6th century BC, has greater significance to us today because the end-date for this calendar is fast approaching. The Mayan's were a particularly advanced civilization, and their calendar was one of their greatest achievements.
The ancient Mayan Long Count calendar ends on December 21st, 2012. Although this is obviously just a date and the calendar had to end sometime, rather than spiral into infinity, there is general uncertainty among many people as to what this means. Why does the calendar end on this specific date, and does it hold any significance for us?
Some people think that 2012 Doomsday will bring the end of the world, or at the very least we will see catastrophe and destruction on an epic scale. Let us not forget the wholesale panic and confusion that the approaching millennium brought us. The World was going to end on New Year's Day, 2000. Obviously it didn't, as we all lived to 'fear' another day. Now we need a new date to dread the approach of.
Many more people think that 2012 Doomsday might not be such a bad year and this date might bring a "new beginning", or a new enlightened era of human-kind.
The Mayan's were extraordinarily accurate when predicting the movements of the planets. One theory is that on this date in 2012, the planets of our solar system will align with the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Another theory is that a rogue planet, called Planet X, will either collide with the Earth or come close enough to cause catastrophic destruction. Planet X, often referred to as the 12th Planet, is also called Nibiru - a name derived from author Zecharia Sitchin and his works on Sumerian and Babylonian mythology.
Nibiru is a planet-sized object that was first observed moving toward our solar system in the 1980s by scientists, although most scientists deny its existence. It is believed, by some people, to have already entered our solar system on a course that has brought it around the far side of the Sun, obscuring it from the Earth.
Beyond 2012 Doomsday:
The effects of a collision with the Earth would be disastrous. An asteroid colliding with the Earth would almost certainly result in an Extinction-Level Event, or ELE, but a planet-sized object hitting the Earth would probably result in the total destruction of our planet.
Fortunately, the chances of a collision are extremely remote. Probably as remote as you or I winning the lottery, but let's not forget that some people do win the lottery. Every week someone wins the lottery!
A near-miss would be unfortunate, but not fatal. The Result would be severe weather conditions, millions of deaths and probably a new Ice Age.
Looking on the bright side, most scientists don't believe that Planet X even exists. Even so, there are countless other ways for fate to get it's claws into us.
The year 2012 might pass uneventfully into 2013. It probably will – if we're lucky.