With the impending apocalypse a mere week away, we run down the most pressing facts and separate them from fiction to ensure you're fully prepared for something that probably won't happen.
Somewhere between their Fast and the Furious marathon and Police Women of Dallas, the History Channel found time in its busy broadcasting schedule to throw in some more historically irrelevant content with their accounts of the impending 2012 Apocalypse, now a mere week away. With such clever titles as 2012: End of Days and The Last Days on Earth, TV’s most inaccurately named channel outlined what hordes of alarmist Bible-thumpers have been spewing for years: that we must repent, for the end is nigh.
“Apocalypse,” you say? “Should I be concerned about this?”
Probably not, but in case you’ve been living on the planet Nibiru (we’ll get there later), we here at Playboy.com have assembled a quick list of FAQs to help enlighten you on everything Mayan and Mayhem–related.
Mayans? What do they have to do with this?
The Mayans are the ones who started this whole mess when they figured that planning things 1500 years into the future was probably unnecessary. Before the Europeans arrived in Central America, the Mayans used a Long Count calendar that divided time into 5,125 year cycles. The cycle we’re in now is considered to be the “fourth world age” and is set to conclude on December 21, 2012.
What happens then?
We’re gonna go ahead and say “nothing,” but if you’re part of the militant religious right, this month may be a little more stressful than your typical holiday season. You should plan around such things as the synchronized eruption of multiple supervolcanoes, being engulfed by a supernova, the triggering of a solar flare with energy equal to 100 billion atom bombs and, of course, colliding with the planet Nibiru.
Did you say supervolcanoes?
We sure did. Supervolcanoes are, you guessed it, big volcanoes capable of erupting lava and ash over a distance of 1000 cubic kilometers and thousands of times greater than most historic volcanic eruptions. They do things like wipe out entire species and trigger ice ages.
I don’t live by one, do I?
Maybe. Known supervolcanoes are the Yellowstone, Long Valley and Valles Calderas in the United States, Lake Toba in Indonesia, Taupo Volcano in New Zealand and the Aira Caldera in Japan.
Wait, wait, wait, Planet Nibiru? Isn’t that where the Gungans lived?
No, that was Naboo. Nibiru is supposedly the planet that will collide with Earth while we’re all busy driving through lakes of lava and avoiding solar flares. The hypothesis was first put forward by Nancy Lieder, a woman who claims she has been in communication with extraterrestrials through an alien implant in her brain.
From the star system Zeti Reticuli. The event was originally set to occur in May of 2003, but proponents of the theory have, shockingly, abandoned the proposed date.
Wouldn’t it be pretty obvious if a planet was about to run into us?
Yes, the runaway planet in the sky would be hard to ignore.
Isn’t a supernova an exploding star? That sounds pretty plausible.
It is an exploding star and it’s a very real occurrence. Some doomsday crusaders have suggested that the red supergiant known as Betelgeuse will undergo a supernova in the not-so-distant future, but science (remember science?) tells us that predicting a supernova inside the range of 100,000 years is impossible. Furthermore, for a supernova to send flaming star fragments crashing towards the Earth, it would have to be closer than 25 light-years away. Betelgeuse is 600.
Light-years measure distance?
My sunscreen doesn’t cover solar flares. Should I get a higher SPF?
Why would the Mayans do this to us?
The Mayans didn’t actually do anything to us, and for anyone not trying to cause mass hysteria, the Mayan inscriptions suggest that the end of this cycle would be cause for celebration and even mention future events that would occur post–fourth world age.
So why did their calendar stop?
You’d be surprised how laborious carving out 5,125 years’ worth of astrological events onto stone tablets can be.
Why are we even considering a calendar created thousands of years ago?
Well, along with being incredibly advanced in the fields of science and astronomy, the Mayans correctly noted the date of every solstice in the fourth world age and also predicted, with surprising accuracy, solar and lunar eclipses.
Are the current Maya people worried about this?
You mean the normal, level-headed people of Southern Mexico and Northern Central America? No, they’re busy being normal, level-headed people living in Southern Mexico and Northern Central America.
So what you’re saying is that I shouldn’t incite mass apocalypse-related riots?
Not unless the aliens tell you otherwise.