Friday, September 12, 2008

Notice: The World Isn't Going to End

I hate to say it, but all of this end of the world talk that sprung up around the collider is really starting to get on my nerves. The plain fact is people have been watching too much television without taking the time to learn science and get some idea about how the world really works. Aliens aren't going to come down and enslave us, the sun isn't going to explode, and the collider is not going to produce a super black hole that eats the earth or a goo of strangelets that turns the earth into green mush.

Things got worse this morning when I came across a post by a girl asking if the world was going to end in 2012. The reason? Because some old calendars ended before 2012. HELLO? Are you kidding me??? This has to be the worst example of magical thinking I've ever heard of. Because some old fart that lived in 1300 made a calendar that doesn't extend past 2012, the world is going to end? Are calendar makers that powerful? Maybe I should make a calendar with $ signs on it so I can get rich.

The origin of the 2012 myth comes from the Mayans. Their calendar had these cycles and the latest cycle happens to end in 2012. NEWSFLASH: The stuff the Mayans believed in is nothing more than a load of crap. The world isn't going to end in 2012 because the MAYANS SAID SO. Yes, the Mayans were great at making pyramids, but that doesn't mean they had some private line to the supernatural world the rest of us can't access. And where are the Mayans anyway? They abandoned their cities a long time ago because of drought the last I heard. Doesn't sound like they had everything figured out, does it.

The fact is the world IS going to end someday, but its going to do so way in the future. The end of the world isn't going to affect your life at all. Not one bit. Global warming isn't going to kill us all, the Large Hadron Collider isn't going to swallow the earth, and Mayans aren't going to reappear in 2012 to destroy civilization.

Life on earth will end. It will certainly end when the sun runs out of fuel and the solar system becomes a planetary nebula. That won't happen for another 5-7 billion years, but life on earth might end a lot sooner for other reasons. In a few hundred million years old, the sun might be pumping out more energy making earth really fricking hot. So hot that life won't be sustainable anymore, at least not complicated, multicellular life.

If technology allows advanced life to survive on earth, something that I find doubtful for a lot of reasons, maybe our descendants will pack up and move to another planet or solar system, avoiding death by a sunbake.

Just for good measure, I posted a picture of supernova 1987A with this article. Sure sometimes things do go wrong! But if you know science you know when they're coming. If there were any inhabitants of planets surrounding that star, I hope they studied astrophysics so they had some idea their star was going to explode.

1 comment:

Ken said...

As I understand the Mayans made no prediction attached to the fact that their 'long count' got too awkward when the number of days exceeded 1.86 million or so from a date in their legendary past, 3113 BC or so. That was presumably when they asserted that they were created or their civilisation began.

Their numbering system was not as awkward as that of the Romans but it still could not handle big numbers easily.

The prediction was invented by modern woo-woos and frauds and the 2012 date for all kinds of predictions is just bandwagon jumping by others of the same ilk.