2012 thread

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by D H, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member

    The approach of December 21, 2012 means ever more disaster mongers and ever more innocent victims who fall prey to these disaster mongers. This thread will act as a collect-all for all things 2012.

    The world will not end on December 21, 2012. So why all this disaster mongering? Simple: There is money to be made in hawking 2012 as the end of everything, and lots of it. The movie 2012, for example, grossed over $700 million. 2012 books are selling at a ferocious rate.

    Some facts:
    • The world will not end on December 21, 2012. Period.
    • The Mayan calendar does not end on that date. That date is more akin to December 31, 999 in our calendar. The next year has a lot of zeros and a new digit. BTW, disaster mongers made lots of money back in 999. This hawking of the end of the world is a very old profession.
    • There is no Planet X or Nibiru.
    • The Earth is not going to flip upside down in 2012, or anytime in the next several million years.
    • The Earth does undergo magnetic field reversals, but these are not instantaneous events. Saying that one will happen on a specific date, let alone in a specific year, is fallacious. These reversals happen every 400,000 years -- and life has lived on through each of them,
    • The Earth will not cross the galactic plane in 2012. The solar system is in fact dozens of light years away from the galactic plane.

    Here is a good site regarding 2012:

    This thread is not a place to hawk a 2012 disaster theory. It is a place to debunk them. It is also a place to help placate the nerves of those who have have bought into or are concerned about the hype.

    Any new threads on 2012 will either be merged into this thread, locked, or deleted.
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  3. sandy Banned Banned

    I agree. 2012 is a lot of hype just like Y2K was. Only God knows when the world will end and He says His Son will come like a thief in the night. These scare-mongers aren't all knowingly deceitful. Some of them really believe it. Some people like/get into the idea of knowing when the world will end. It gives them some kind of peace/excitement. Too bad it's fake.
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  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Remember how many times have we all have been told throughout history that the end of the world was coming? At least a thousand times and as yet not one time have they been correct. So with an average of ZERO times correct what are the chances that this new "end of the world" is also going to happen? I'd say it won't happen for the entire earth but for those who die on that day , that will be the end for them.
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  7. sifreak21 Valued Senior Member

    y2k and this are 2 different things one of them had 0 coincidences with it and the only thing that was going to happen was 1999-2000 on computers everywhere sick of people compairing the 2, not goint to rattle off all of the coincidences there are in 2012 if you want to know look them up yourself.. there are alot of them, 2012 wasnt said to be the end of the world it was said to be time of great change where people got end of the world was probably the movie outside of that im not sure

    as to you cosmictravler so far.. your right but there will be a day when the earth ends no not 2012. but someone someday will be right,, and there will be no one around to say "see i told you so" cuz everyone will be dead lol
  8. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    It's a lot of hype, but we really are heading towards collapse. If it coincides with 2012, that would be freaky. I think many people feel this is going to happen, which is why the 2012 meme is so compelling.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Y2K was not hype. It was very real and it was the fault of managers who kept putting the problem off. I raised the issue in the municipal government IT department where I worked in 1989. They took me seriously and completed their remediation in 1998, then sent their experts out to help the business community handle the problem. But many organizations were not so sensible.

    In the 1960s, when I became a computer programmer, all data was submitted on punch cards, which have exactly 80 columns. With so little space, naturally the year was abbreviated to two digits.

    This was a sensible business strategy, because up to that point, computer architecture had been completely changed about twice per decade. Every time that happened, all software had to be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch for the new architecture. At that point we could fix any deficiencies in the old software. Some time in the future we'll have data entry by some medium other than punch cards, and when we once again completely rewrite all of our programs, we'll be sure to store the year as four digits. No problem!

    When the IBM 360 mainframe came out with the OS360 operating system, no one realized that this was the last time that a new generation of computer would be incompatible with old software coding. A program written in 1957 would not run on a computer built in 1967, but the programs I wrote in 1967 can still run on today's computers, 43 years later.

    Of course programs must be upgraded to handle new business conditions and to adapt to new standards of quality, security, convenience, etc. Programs are modified rather often. It would have been reasonable, during one of those modifications, to look through the entire program and find all the places where the year was stored as two digits.

    But it's a lot of work to go through an entire program looking for one small thing, and it needs to be double-checked because it's too easy to miss one. This makes it an expensive process, and most organizations weren't willing to spend the money. "Don't worry about it, we'll do it next year."

    "Next year" finally happened in 1998, when every IT manager in the world woke up and realized that all of his predecessors left the Y2K problem for him to solve. In two years, a great many old computer programs were going to get incorrect results when they compare two dates on opposite sides of the millennium. This was already starting to happen: systems processing insurance policies, driver's licenses, etc., with expiration dates more than one year in advance had already been crashing and had to be frantically reprogrammed. Multiply that by a million next year, when ALL the other programs start running into the same thing.

    There were billions of lines of program code to check when IT departments finally got the order to drop every other project that wasn't concerned with life and death, and get into the business of Y2K remediation. We were hiring every retired COBOL programmer who could still see straight. (Of course newer programs didn't have this problem because they had been written right, but there were billions of lines of old program code still in production.)

    It still wasn't enough. Once the problem was measured with reasonable accuracy, we recognized that we could not check every program and fix all the problems by Dec 31, 1999. So we did triage.
    • Red blanket: If this system fails the consequences will be ruinous. Traffic signals flashing the wrong way, power generators shut down, elevators stuck between floors, mental hospital doors springing open or locking shut by default, critical contact lists offline, bank accounts unavailable, truck dispatching systems unable to figure out where to deliver the food... all of these were very real concerns in a year when computer technology with defective software could show up in any of thousands of critical systems. Got to put everybody to work on these first.
    • Yellow blanket: If this system fails it will be inconvenient, embarrassing or expensive, but we'll muddle through. Fix these when we're done with the red-blanket systems.
    • Green blanket: If this system fails it will be a nuisance and some people will complain, but they'll get over it. Fix these last.
    On behalf of the IT staff of the entire planet I am so humbled by your gratitude that we worked our butts off for a year to keep YOUR planet running--because our bosses were too stupid to care about a Really Big Problem until it was almost too late. It's nice that you appreciate us.

    As far as I know, we managed to get all the Red Blanket systems repaired. There were a few contact lists that were offline and had to be handled by calling somebody who knew somebody else, but nobody died because of it. A few doors didn't work but the security guards were able to work them manually. But none of the big disasters happened.

    But we certainly did not get the Yellow Blanket systems completed, and most of the Green Blanket systems were put off until 2002 or later. I had personal experience:
    • In 1999 I bought two cases of diet soda. Aspartame does not have a long shelf life when not temperature-controlled, and every carton has an expiration date printed on it. The expiration dates on these were garbled because the program that printed them had not been remediated and went haywire. Of course I hadn't bothered to check and only noticed when I popped a can and found expired aspartame. This software was on the Yellow Blanket or Green Blanket list because spoiled aspartame won't kill anybody. But this same type of expiration date generation algorithm is used in factories that make pharmaceuticals. Fortunately those programs were on the Red Blanket list and had been remediated. Nobody died from taking expired insulin.
    • Our electic company was not able to send out a bill until July of 2000; and when it came it was for about five times what we owed them. Their accounting systems had not been remediated. Fortunately their programmers had been hard at work remediating the process-control software that keeps the generators running, and we didn't have any Y2K power outages.
    • Our bank was unable to send out an accurate mortgage statement throughout the entire year of 2000--which, by the way, apparently had thirteen months. Their mortgage system had not been remediated. Fortunately both their account management system and their ATM software were corrected, so we never had any trouble getting to our money.
    Y2K was real. We fixed it. You're welcome.
  10. sly1 Heartless Registered Senior Member

    buy 2012 stuff!! in 2062 it will be valueable if not at least funny!
  11. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

    Thank you Fraggle. You're damn right this was a serious problem. I was at the other end of the spectrum, but I learned COBOL (and FORTRAN) in college, on punch cards. (Don't drop your stack on the way to the computer lab -

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    I bummed around a little during Y2K helping with the COBOL stuff - green blanket level, for private firms willing to pay a lot of money so they could maintain their systems, critical or not. At the time, I no longer "programmed" for a living, but again, some firms made it worth my while...

    I still dabble, mostly in web design, but making the transition to "object oriented" from "procedural" code nearly fried my brain...

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  12. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    I did my fair share of running programs with either punch cards or paper tape, and Fraggle and his bunch are an amazing group. My college room-mate was a EECS major and was also involved in Y2K remediation - a very real challenge.

    2012, however, is simply the end cycle of the Mayan calendar. Why would they post future cycles so many centuries in advance? No reason. Just like we don't post calendars for a million years hence, even though the planet will likely be here (unless the LHC does it in!). Posting calendars for the next few centuries should be enough for now, or at least into the fourth millenium nearly 1,000 years hence.
  13. domesticated om Cartoon character Valued Senior Member

    This needs to be moved to the pseudoscience subforum
  14. stateofmind seeker of lies Valued Senior Member

    The hypothesis that the only reason for the hype of 2012 is to make money is a valid one and a reason for skepticism. I don't think it's in the true scientific spirit however to completely rule out the possibility that there may actually be something to it. What research have you done, D H, other than that nasa site you provided which has some patriarchal "scientist" playing Dad and offering comforting reassurance that everything is going to be alright no one should worry or look any further.

    Here's a quote from that article you linked to:

    You know, my grandmother has been getting along just fine for 86 years and nothing bad will happen to her in the future... you could do this with just about anything. Oh and no "credible" (that's the qualifying word here) scientists know of any threat associated with 2012. Who's to judge which scientists are credible and which ones aren't? And just because no "credible" scientists know of any associations, isn't it possible that many of them haven't even considered 2012 seriously?

    I'm not claiming 2012 is the real deal but I don't think it's scientific to throw out the possibility. Have you read any of the more praised books on mayans and the 2012? If not, how can you judge at all?
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    You're forgetting the scientific method (which is "the true scientific spirit," to use your quaint terminology), specifically the Rule of Laplace: "Extraordinary assertions must be supported by extraordinary evidence before we are obliged to treat them with respect." The allegations of the shamans of a Bronze Age culture do not qualify as extraordinary evidence, and in fact they're not even ordinary evidence.

    This is the same reason we are not obliged to take religious nonsense seriously. Science doesn't have the bandwidth to investigate every crackpot claim. It's up to the crackpots to do their own research and substantiate their claims, and then present us with the evidence.
    Is the person who wrote that supposed to be a scientist? We have entire universities full of evidence supporting the assertion that your grandmother will not live to be 150; and we hardly need extraordinary evidence since death is a well-documented phenomenon. In contrast, we have zero proper scholarly evidence that anything unusually bad is going to happen in 2012, much less something as extraordinary as the end of the world.
    One of the beautiful things about the scientific method is that when a scientist proposes a theory, it doesn't take a scientist of the same rank to do the peer review. The work of an Einstein or a Hawking can be easily validated by merely gifted PhDs, and their work can be dissected by merely ordinary PhDs, whose own work is peer-reviewed quite satisfactorily by graduate students. Your question is a good one, and the answer is:

    The credibility of any scientist can be verified by an entire phalanx of people who are not brilliant enough to have done what he has done, but who are well-educated enough to review it and spot any flaws, oversights or dishonesty.

    This is one of the key reasons that science works!

    You missed the part about the Rule of Laplace. The League of Distinguished Scientists is under no obligation to treat with respect any extraordinary hypothesis that is presented without the required extraordinary evidence.

    It is everyone's job to find the evidence for their own hypotheses! Not to hand them to someone one rung higher in the ladder and say, "Here, I'm too lazy or stupid or addled to go out and find my own evidence. You can go look for it, between rocket launches and DNA tests."

    If you're a physicist or a geologist or a cosmologist and you see something in this (apparently woefully misinterpreted) prediction by the Maya that should be taken seriously, then go do your homework and follow that hunch before you expect us to review a work in progress. It's called research, and it's what scientists do. In fact it's exactly what they do when they have a hunch!
    I will assume you're a trusworthy scientist. Please tell us what you see in these books that encourages you to take them seriously? Since this is your campaign, I assume you have read them... right? If not, why should we?
  16. stateofmind seeker of lies Valued Senior Member

    The Rule of Laplace is some guy's opinion about what the proper course of action is in regard to "extraordinary" hypotheses. It is by no means a fact but rather a style of inquiry. So to make the argument "this is how the people who are considered scientists do things these days" says nothing about the validity or proper course of action for this "extraordinary" hypothesis (which may be true or false.)

    What is extraordinary to some may be commonplace or obvious to others. The label of "extraordinary" is therefore a subjective interpretation of things and again not to be confused with "fact." It appears the scientists you described are not as objective as they think!

    Should every scientist stop what they're doing and investigate this phenomenon? No. Everyone should investigate what they feel they should investigate. But the pseudo-scientific investigation to get people to not think about it for themselves or research it for themselves, like in the article provided by D H, is not helping anyone. It's only offering comfort to those people who are too lazy to form their own opinions based on their own investigation and have a lot of faith in "science" as we know it today.

    I have no intention for any scientist to review this work - especially if they are not interested or drawn to it. What I'm trying to point out is what I perceive to be a closed-minded and unscientific approach to new phenomena. It is, in my opinion, against the true scientific spirit to make a conclusion about a hypothesis before all the evidence is gathered. If there is absolute certainty before undeniable proof then there is a good chance there are some closed-minded views present.

    I've read some introductions to a few books on it but I haven't done a thorough study by any means. There were some interesting coincidences and circumstances that seemed to warrant further investigation. One of the things I remember was that one of the mayan shamans predicted the demise of their civilization (which was quite advanced and prosperous for its time.) When the time for the prediction came, the mayans (comprised of over a million) were completely obliterated by about 150 spanish explorers. Not to say this is proof that 2012 is true, but this was an interesting occurrence.

    I think I'm a pretty intelligent and reasonable guy and if I don't have absolutely certainty (which means there isn't even .0001% doubt) then chances are the so called "scientists" are at least a little less sure than they let on.
  17. X-Man2 We're under no illusions. Registered Senior Member

    Speaking of 2012:

    I cant remember the exact details but I was reading this past Sundays paper when I came across an interesting article.This retired guy(an atheist) was trying to figure out how to supplement his retirement income when he got this idea for extra money.He decided to offer thru contractual agreements a guarantee program in where he would find responsible adults to care for the pets,livestock etc of people whom believe they will be whisked up to Heaven come 2012.I guess it goes something like Christians will be whisked up to heaven while non-believers will stay here on Earth.Non-believers will be given another chance to become Christian and follow God.So anyway this guy has sold a bunch of these contract deals to the Christians who can now feel at ease knowing their pets,livestock etc will be taken care of after they vanish into Heaven.Who would have thought? I Love it! he he
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I have not yet found a formal definition of "an extraordinary assertion." But from the way I have observed the scientific community respond to various fringe hypotheses over the decades, it appears that an extraordinary assertion is one that contradicts a canonical theory, or more than one ordinary theory.

    That makes sense. Ordinary theories are overturned often enough that we shouldn't dismiss someone who claims to have found the next one. But they're not overthrown so often that a graduate student from a third-rate university is likely to have found the flaws in two at once. And canonical theories are overthrown so rarely that it's difficult to imagine that someone with the education and talent to do so--the next Einstein in his discipline--is not already fairly well-known and that his ongoing work has not already been reviewed by some of his peers.

    Science is a self-regulating, self-correcting process.

    You can say that science has the same old-boy network of any field of endeavor. But it also has the same jealousies and back-stabbing. If you have the research whose results will overturn a theory, there are hundreds of people out there who will support you just for the chance to stick it to some exalted scientist they don't like (and maybe to be mentioned by name in your cover article in People magazine titled "The Maverick Who Proved the Maya Shamans Right!"). Ultimately your research will be peer-reviewed by hundreds or even thousands of people all over the world, and the truth will shake out.

    As for facts, we don't have those in science. We only have hypotheses that have been proven true beyond a reasonable doubt, becoming theories. Hypotheses are proven absolutely true only in mathematics, which is based purely on abstractions rather than empirical evidence of the natural universe.
  19. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    I hate to break it to anyone, but you CAN NOT make up facts (as something obviously is going to happen) about the future, specially when that event is years away.

    The world came dangerously close to its end for humans 2-3 times already, so picking dec. 21 2012 is just as good as March 13 2014...

    As lucky as we are we might get hit by an asteroid or an accidental nuclear war or a world-wide squirrel apprising, you just never know....

    P.S.: ..and no, the Sun will rise tomorrow is NOT a fact, yet, just a very high probability event.
  20. stateofmind seeker of lies Valued Senior Member

    I agree with all of this!

    Actually, my argument for the subjectivity of "extraordinary" is a rather moot point compared to the real problem with the "Rule." It is simply arrogant and closed minded to not even consider let alone respect, new evidence or a new theory simply because it is outside one's own unique and SUBJECTIVE construct of reality. The scientist who thinks he is or can be 100% objective, especially when dealing with something unknown to him, is a fool and should not be trusted.

    What canonical theory is being overthrown by the assertions of 2012? I just don't see how the theory of relativity will be rendered obsolete if some of the 2012 predictions are accurate. Furthermore, you keep arguing that all this is unlikely (not impossible.) If this is so then how is it in the true spirit of scientific inquiry not even consider it or leave it as a possibility (however unlikely)?

    You're forgetting the biases of the sciences. You cannot dispute, as you seem to have some practical experience with the actual scientific machine, that there are some fields of inquiry that are considered "worthy" and some that aren't. You don't get grants for unworthy pursuits. All of the "worthy" endeavors are the ones that are perceived to be useful. In our society, these include weapons technology, surveillance technology, food and genetic modification, drugs etc. Tell me, with our values the way they are currently, how could the predictions of the mayan civilization be perceived as useful? Who would fund or support research for it? What would they have to gain from it? We are biased to our values, whether they are right or wrong. So this assertion that there will ever be support outside of those that perceive value in it, seems very naive to me.

    Yes, I think this is true.
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    There are millions of scientists. For every new bit of evidence and every new hypothesis, there's somebody out there who will have no trouble grasping it. Probably more of them than you give credit for. They're not stupid people.
    Nothing pertaining to humans is ever 100%, but that's the reason that peer review is an essential step in science. 99.99% probability, squared, yields a figure so high that it's quite reasonable to tell someone, "Your hypothesis has too many flaws to get it on our agenda any time within the next hundred years. Nonetheless you're free to continue your research independently."
    Sorry, crackpottery is not my specialty so I haven't read them in detail. I know enough anthropology to know that Mexico was still in the Bronze Age when it was conquered by the Christians, and "Bronze Age science" is an oxymoron because science requires a certain level of technology infrastructure which cannot be built out of bronze.

    If the Mayan hypothesis is so abstract that it requires no laboratory, then it can't be that expensive to investigate.
    Crackpot hypotheses are not (automatically) dismissed as "impossible." As I noted above, the proposer is free to continue his research. This is not the 15th century; the Pope will not burn his papers, smash his equipment and throw him in a dungeon.

    But what he also cannot expect is to have a university, corporate or government office or laboratory set up an account to fund and staff his project. The resources of science are finite so they have to be allocated wisely. Every scientist who is assigned to investigating crackpottery is one less scientist available to look for a cure for cancer, a solution to global warming, or a million more prosaic but nonetheless quite necessary and important things.
    Oh now you're starting to sound like Sam. "The American military-industrial complex has a death grip on all scientific research on the entire planet." There is considerable diversity in global science, and the multifaceted free press, even in America, is keenly interested in ideas that appear to have been censored by the forces of orthodoxy. If your idea has a shred of merit, a university in Moldova or Azerbaijan or even China or Brazil would be delighted to prove that the Americans stifle scientifically blasphemous ideas. For that matter, there are plenty of eccentric millionaires right here in the USA who die and leave their money to endow programs for the specific purpose of launching investigations in unorthodox directions. There is, after all, a well-endowed "Creation Science Museum" in Kentucky, less than a day's drive from where I'm writing this.

    Frankly, I'm sure your Mayan mysteries are, as we speak, being thoroughly studied by PhD's in several places within the USA and without, paid for by eccentric endowments.
    You seem to have a cynical view of civilization, that it's been completely co-opted by the same kind of people who brought us the deforestation of Borneo and the Chinese catfish in Lake Michigan. It hasn't. Obviously in tough economic times it's harder to get a grant to build a perpetual-motion machine, but tough times don't last forever.
    I think I've already answered that. Being eccentric is not always an impediment to becoming wealthy.
    Well since you're an advocate of this particular line of research, surely you have some ideas on what civilization will gain from it. Why don't you tell me? It doesn't have to be a new weapon or a more efficient way of growing corn, there is still a market for ideas whose only practical application is to set the direction for further research. As I said, your oversimplified view of the world is a bit cynical.
    But the scientific community is not a monolith. They don't all share the same values. There are people with university degrees attempting to prove "creation science." I would not be surprised to find Mayan scholars in the same position.
    You find me naive and I find you cynical. Rather ironic considering that I'm surely the elder of us (66). It's usually the other way round.

    I have plenty of reason to be cynical but I still have faith--reasoned faith--in civilization. Its advances have not been monotonic, but in the long run progress has always prevailed.

    One key advantage of the internet is that it's now a whole lot easier for people with an interest in the same idea to find each other. Look at us.

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  22. stateofmind seeker of lies Valued Senior Member

    I don't know if it was conscious or not but you display here exactly what I find so paradoxical. You admit that you have not done any research in it and yet you denigrate it as "crackpottery." How does this have even the semblance of objectivity?

    If this were true then how could science ever exist? By this line of reasoning science could only come about if the technological infrastructure came about by accident..

    I have no disagreement with this. A person or institute is entitled to their own hierarchy of values and consequently how they allocate their resources. What bothers me is the judgement before the investigation - and not this behavior in and of itself which is simply an honest dishonesty - but that it does so under the banner and prestige of "science" (an institution widely associated with objectivity and thorough investigation.) If someone wants to adopt this method towards the new and unknown for themselves then it is their own decision - and it is not my place to judge. But when it's packaged with the label of "science" for all to consume, it's a bit like the american meat processing plants that still use the pastoral imagery on their products.

    I'm not afraid to admit my ignorance of the possible gains from this. And I'm not for or against this research. I feel that the most objective stance is to not make a conclusion about it until I've investigated it further.

    As to your claim of me being cynical... well, I suppose to every thing there is a season.

    The very fact that to join the scientific community one must go through at least a 16 year indoctrination (literally) certainly raises the suspicion that it may in fact be a monolith.

    Lol, it is a bit ironic that those classic roles have switched.

    One could argue that progress is a 2-sided coin. A cancer progresses and so does a toddler.

    The internet is a wonderful invention and I'm very glad that it exists! It certainly has many benefits including the wonderful sciforums!

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  23. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member


    2012, is a lie,
    there was another one in the 90s, that says that 2000 is the end of the world,
    also another one that said that 1950 is the end...
    it's just a movie, why do they beleive it,
    in 2012, it will be there a solar storm, but, not the end of the world

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