Doomsday

Well, it is inevitable and I mean both the real doomsday and me writing about it and the time is just right - we entered deeply the year of 2012, the one and only with major doomsday prophecy, maybe the biggest and the most talked about than any 'end of the world' fairytales in the history.

But first I need to create a big firewall around my thoughts about this topic - I simply want to say that I am 100% positive that there will be no end of the world on December 21st and yet my mission is not to do any debunking of the internet hysteria about Mayan prophecy, it is just another humble opinion based on the scientific facts and my skeptical point of view to the world that surrounds me. That said I only need to add here that prophecies simply belong to the pseudo-science and effective sociological tools for spreading delusional stories typically created in order for someone to gain something, like money and fortune.

Mayan calendar

But what is it really all about? Let's try to analyze it a bit. Like any other prophecy this one is also based on a real astronomical observation and in this case on the old Mayan calendar based on 18 and 20 days count. Old civilization of Maya didn't count time like we do today in days, weeks, months, years, centuries and millenniums. Instead they used a system where one day is represented with one k'in. Comparing to our SI system of units where we use micros, millis, kilos, megas, gigas, teras, etc., for calculating time Mayan used k'in (1 day), winal (20 k'in), tun (18 winal), k'atun (20 tun) and b'ak'tun (20 k'tun). Numerical representation of these units are 0.0.0.0.1 for k'in, 0.0.0.1.0 for winal, 0.0.1.0.0 for tun, 0.1.0.0.0 for k'atun while one b'ak'tun is exactly 1.0.0.0.0 or 144000 days or 394.3 years. Again if we compare this with our units - today for large amount of time we are using centuries (100 years) and millenniums (1000 years) while Mayan biggest period was b'ak'tun with it's period of 394.3 years. But and to get back to the doomsday - if we start counting time in Mayan units and they started with the August 11, 3114 BCE with their religious event (again like we do with Jesus birth their religious event was a date when their god(s) created human beings and world itself) and if we count only biggest time intervals, or b'ak'tun in our modern era, the 13th b'ak'tun started on September 18, 1618, the 14th b'ak'tun will start (you guessed) on December 21, 2012, 15th is planned for March 26, 2407 and if you go further in the future you will find the last b'ak'tun will end on October 12, 4772.

In other words, speaking in Mayan language on December 21st will start next b'ak'tun and nothing more. Like we had 12 years ago (Jan 1st, 2001) a simple change of second millennium into third one. Like nothing happened on Jan 1st 2001 (not even the big computer bug happened at the time), nothing will happen on Dec 21st. It is just a way of calculating time. Everything else is just a (curved and intentional) interpretation of old religious and superstitious texts embedded into poor fiction.

Asteroid impact

So you see, this is the base of all 'prophecies' for 2012 doomsday, it is just convenience that one round number of Mayan periods of time is going to happen this year. I am more than sure that in 394.3 years "doomsday theorists" of the future will predict new end of the world when next b'ak'tun comes to replace the old one. Ok, let's stop talking about Mayas now and start talking about real doomsday as it is inevitable as I state in very first line of the post. We are simply living in a violent universe and there are tons of killer things capable of ending the world as we know it. I am sure lots of books, documentaries, movies, articles and forums are out there to read and watch so I will state couple of references at the end of the post for you to kill the free time and next I will only try to enumerate what might happen in the future. So if we are happy enough to live without any doomsdays until the Sun goes into red giant stage and swallow the Earth and us along with it, and this will approximately happen in 5 or so billion years, what actually we might expect in the meantime?Here's the list of potential hazards:

Supernovae and Gamma Rays
While supernova is an explosion of a massive supergiant star, black holes could be remnants of such explosion, both equally dangerous. It seems that in our neighborhood there are no stars in their way to end in such violent explosion, but even though, the X and Gamma rays hitting the Earth from distant Supernovae explosion could damage Earth atmosphere leaving us vulnerable for other threats with immediate threat of global warming. While traveling throughout space, in Sun's revolution around the galaxy core, even slight oscillation in its path and different position in Galaxy plane could bring our system in different neighborhood. Hypothetical primordial black holes and dark matter encountered in the journey could also post a significant threat if our Solar system stumble just a tiny portion of it.

Supervolcanoes, Earthquakes, Tsunamis
Violent events coming from Earth core or surface could easily spread the devastation around the globe. Earth is still young and active planet and chain events launched by any global devastation event would start changes in climate or block the sunshine for a long time. The Earth axis is oscillating over time bringing ice ages in regular intervals and the next one would decimate the population fast.

Dangerous events from the Sun
Solar flares are jets of plasma shooting out of the sun. Any significant disturbance in Earth protective magnetic field would be a big hazard for any kind of solar radiation, not just flares. The Sun is maybe the biggest problem to us all as we are simply too dependent on electricity and modern way of life and solar radiation is the number one enemy of our power grid. Even a smallest city would face major damage if left without electricity for a big amount of time.

Near-Earth objects and dangerous Solar system
All asteroid and comets larger than 10 kilometers in diameter are fatal if they hit the ground. Devastating wave of destruction would kill the planet life within days. Currently, outer Solar system is acting as a defense for us by attracting the most of objects toward big planets and if anything unusual happens to Jupiter we are simply doomed without protection of this kind. If this balance changes even a little bit it could be fatal for inner planets.

Alien Invasion
If we listen Steven Hawking and some Hollywood writers, aliens who lives in space and accidentally or on purpose visit our portion of Galaxy is more likely to be hostile than friendly and technology behind aliens who are capable of interstellar travel is definitively much superior than our own. It would be a play of cat and mouse and not in a funny Tom and Jerry way. Will Smith, Bruce Willis and other super heroes will be useless.

Nuclear holocaust and other human stupidities
Nuclear winter of the worldwide war is a serious threat, there are 20000+ nuclear warheads out there, not counting nuclear reactors in nuclear plants estimated around 500 more or less worldwide. However, nuclear threat is maybe not that as big as the biodiversity imbalance. We are living in a harmony with other species depending on each other for pure survival and if this balance trans-pass the red line, the ultimate chain of destruction and collapse is inevitable. Other threats are virus pandemic, either natural or artificial, biological hazards, pollution and more.

The Road, post-apocalyptic movie

Sooner or later something will happen and human race and all other species will face the ultimate challenge. Good thing is scientists are aware of this and many are working on various kind of protection. We are or we will be ready to deal with some or all threats either to act preventively or to deal and live with the damage. We can also surely say that there are two types of ultimate doomsdays, one truly Armageddon, with 100% fatalities where we can do nothing about, like the ultimate death of our Sun (except to move to another planet) and second one that is "only" capable of decimating the life as we know it and where only prepared and lucky survives. What we can do? There are actually two ways, one systematic with involvement of countries and organisations like secure seed bank "Svalbard" in Norway where global seed vault is stored for post-apocalyptic era. Second one is individual as there is a fair chance that some destructions will last couple of years only, like cleaning the atmosphere after the super-volcano eruption or the recovery after big solar flare destroys power grids worldwide or post-traumatic era after mega-pandemic event. In these cases people could be prepared by maintaining the "post-apocalyptic kit" in form of food and medical stash, air and water filtering systems, survival basements, some scientific tools like Geiger counter and a library of books that will give you a knowledge to start the life over. Remember there will be no internet or organized societies and good skills of how to create electricity out of running water or wind will come more than handy.

References:
http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/lmd/campain/Svalbard
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3864977-death-from-the-skies
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun#Earth.27s_fate
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_System_of_Units
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerican_Long_Count_calendar
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/supervolcanos
http://www.euronuclear.org/info/encyclopedia/n/nuclear-plants
http://www.web.net/~cnanw/a3.htm

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