Neil deGrasse Tyson does his part

The Mayan Calendar

The Mayan Calendar

Well, as we zero in on the year 2012, the usual suspects are up in arms, warning everyone gullible enough to listen that the magical Mayan calendar ‘ends’ on December 21, 2012.

From this starting point, they weave an amazing tale of how the world will somehow end on that date, and manage to rope in disparate (and very often erroneous) morsels of other information to support their claim.  Whether it is the arrival of the mysterious planet Niribu, or some kind of galactic alignment, they insist that cataclysms will consume the earth on that day.

This is all nonsense of course.  The Mayans didn’t have a magic calendar that could tell the future.  For starters, of they had such a calendar, they wouldn’t have been annihilated by a superior culture.  They also fail to consider that upon reaching the end of the the Mayan calendar, it might simply reset back to the beginning (much like December 31 is the end of each year on our calendar, but that fact doesn’t portend to the end of the world, we just start again with a new January 1).

The Planet Nibiru

The Planet Nibiru

If you listen to these gullible nuts, the planet Niribu will evidently have a close call with Earth, as our respective orbits will come too close for comfort.  Of course, if a killer giant planet was due to wreak havoc on our planet’s gravity in a few short years, chances are even modest telescopes would have been able to see and identify it years ago.

Some insist Nibiru is on the other side of the sun, making it impossible to see.  Well, if that’s true, we still would have seen it years ago as it zipped by Earth and moved toward the other side of the sun.  We would be able to measure its gravitational influence, in any case.  Of course, nobody has seen, measured, or recorded anything of the kind.

And then there are those who remark that somehow, the center of the galaxy will be perfectly aligned with the Sun and the Earth.  Don’t ask these people exactly what that means, though.  Of course, the sun is always aligned with the Center of the Galaxy (any 2 points will make a straight line, after all).  so anytime the Earth is perfectly aligned with the Sun, all three points will be aligned.

Which brings me to this great video by one of my favorite scientists on the scene, Neil deGrasse Tyson.  He discusses this celestial alignment, and its significance (or lack of significance) in this brief video.  Enjoy!