As people many look forward to the new year, some are braced for the end, believing the Maya long-count calendar foretells cataclysmic events on Dec. 21.
Others say that’s not at all what the ancient Mayans documented with their calendar. Bev Markle, a member of Kamloops Astronomical Society, is one of them.
Society members gather Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Room 375 of the TRU Science Building for their monthly meeting, where various theories about the end of the world are on the agenda.
“I am looking at the Mayan and the long-calendar event . . . not really as doomsday but rather as a change of an era,” Markle explained.
The Mayan prediction has become fodder for popular myth in recent years, including the Hollywood sci-fi thriller Apocalypse 2012, which was partly filmed in the region. The current trend may be nothing more sinister than a modern manifestation of the age-old human curiosity in origin and fate — what the future may hold in store.
“Everybody wants to know when it’s going to end and where did it begin, our history here on the planet,” Markle said.
There are all kinds of theories about how it could end. Other society members will take turns exploring these. For example, there’s the Earth’s collision with Nibiru or Planet X, a large planetary object with which we’re supposed to collide in this century. This is not based on scientific evidence.
The black-hole theory suggests that one at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy could suck in Earth but that’s not likely, physicists say.
A solar-maximum theory holds that the sun’s solar activity will peak in fall 2013. The last solar maximum was in year 2000, when the world didn’t end although there was a serious outbreak of Y2K paranoia.
Why would a science-based group discuss pseudoscience?
Dedicated to celestial observation, the society finds that these theories originated with the same, drawn from a time when the stars were thought to determine the course of events on Earth. Now, the stars are much less visible to most people, Markle observed.
Part of their mandate is education, so shooting holes (just small ones, mind you, not black) in theories has a purpose as well.
“People’s social interpretation of the sky is a bit of a stretch from what we usually do, but it’s fun,” she said. “We’re going to kick these about, eat dessert and have a good laugh.”
The public is welcome to attend.