People have been saying that since the Mayan calendar ended in 2012, that means that the world must be ending this year. I’ve always been skeptical, because if I was an ancient Mayan creating a calendar, I would get bored. I’d say, ‘Hey, 2000 years from now people can update my calendar, but I’ve done as much as I want, thank you very much’.
Today, Saturno et al. published an article reporting their findings of glyphs that predict lunar cycles thousands of years beyond today. So, of course, media has picked up this story. National Geographic has some pretty pictures, and news sources such as The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times have articles as well. Science magazine has an article too, and the podcast covers the findings too.
What I don’t understand is why this is such a big deal. The findings themselves are pretty interesting, since Mayans generally didn’t record lunar measurements etc. on walls of residential homes (they generally recorded them on paper), but that’s not the overall focus of most of these articles. From what I understand, the Mayans were all about cyclical patterns, and the end of the world doesn’t exactly fit into that worldview. So all the hype about the Mayans predicting the end of the world seems to be more about us projecting our worries and concerns (Remember the Cold War and the risk of nuclear destruction?) onto an ancient civilization. Luckily, it doesn’t sound like the world is going to end this year, so we’ll have to come up with some other catastrophic prediction for next year.